Diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
The China–Sri Lanka relations refers to bilateral relations between the People's Republic of China and Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. There is a Chinese embassy located in Colombo and a Sri Lankan embassy situated in Beijing. Historical and cultural ties between the two countries extend back hundreds of years.
Diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and China have being very close specially during Sri Lanka Freedom Party governments,In February 7, 1957, China and Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations. In 1996, then Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga paid a state visit to China at the invitation of then Chinese President Jiang Zeming. The two sides signed two agreements to enhance economic cooperation.Relations between both countries during the rule of Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resulted in many agreements and saw closer relations due to Rajapaksa's pro-China stance. Under current Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, relations remain strong with Sirisena interested in balancing both Chinese and Indian influence in the country. Despite this, recent developments have shown a "pro-China" slant to Sri Lanka's current foreign policy evident in the continued Chinese investment in Sri Lanka and the country's support of China's position in the South China Sea dispute.
Sri Lanka is a major country on the String of Pearls which is part of the Chinese strategic initiative in the Indian Ocean, known as the Maritime Silk Road and is part of the bigger development strategy known as the One Belt, One Road.
Hambantota Port one of major emerging port of South Asia funded by China
Faxian traveled to Sri Lanka in 410 and resided in the country for two years before returning to China in a merchant ship. The Karanamudra Sutra and Vimuttimagga, two Buddhist texts in Sri Lanka, were translated to Chinese in 489 and 505 respectively. Amoghavajra, a powerful Buddhist monk in Chinese history traveled to Sri Lanka and was responsible for translating the Karandamudra Sutra into Chinese and taking it back to China in the 8th century. Buddhist nuns from Sri Lanka, vice versa, traveled to China in 429 and 433.
During the Ming dynasty in the Yongle Emperor's reign, Admiral Zheng He's Treasure voyages visited Sri Lanka and wanted to take back the sacred bowl, hair, and tooth relics of the Buddha - the island’s spiritual treasures for millennia. This resilted in the Ming–Kotte War. The Galle Trilingual Inscription was erected in Galle, Sri Lanka in 1409 to record Zheng He's second visit to the country and to recognize the legitimacy of the Ming King among foreign rulers.
Like many other parts of East, South and Southeast Asia, Chinese immigrants migrated to Sri Lanka during the 18th and 19th centuries, albeit in much smaller numbers in comparison to neighbouring countries like India, Myanmar or other parts of Southeast Asia. As of the 2001 census, they comprise less than 0.20% of the population and have integrated into broader Sri Lankan society.
Sri Lanka was among the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China. Since then, the two countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits resulting in a variety of agreements.Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall was gifted to Sri Lanka by China to honor prime minister SWRD Bandaranaike in 1973. In 1996, then Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga paid a state visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese President Jiang Zeming. The two sides signed two agreements to enhance economic cooperation.China has provided economic, military and technical assistance to Sri Lanka.
There is substantial investment from China in Sri Lankan infrastructural expansion. From 2004 to 2014, China provided 7 billion dollars in loans, including loans for the construction of a Sri Lankan port in Hambantota. However there are concerns inside the country and in the international media that Sri Lanka cannot afford these loans since the nation is already 64 billion dollars in debt, and about 95% of the government's revenue is used to pay back loans. In the case of the port in Hambantota, the two countries have recently come to a deal with Sri Lanka selling a majority stake in the port to the state-run China Merchants Port Holdings, while Sri Lanka retains control of port security. China and Sri Lanka also share a military relationship, with China selling a range of modern armaments to the Sri Lanka Armed Forces.
Chinese WZ551 (Type 92) APC in Sri Lankan use
China has been a continuing source of military equipment to Sri Lanka, and is helping to modernize and expand the Sri Lanka Armed Forces. China exports military equipment to the Sri Lanka military including: ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, deep penetration bombs and rockets, mortar ammunition, night vision devices, artillery, armor, mortars, security equipment, tanks, jets, naval vessels, radars, and communications equipment. China also aids in the training of Sri Lankan military personnel.
China National Aero Technology Import-Export Corporation is helping the Sri Lanka government to create an Aircraft Maintenance Centre. However, the location has not yet been finalised, but Katunayake, Mattala and Trincomalee are possible locations.
Chinese nuclear submarines have made several visits to Sri Lanka in September and November 2014, despite strong displeasure from the Indian government.
In October 2016, the Chinese government announced it would offer military aid to Sri Lanka to help them purchase Chinese made military equipment.
The landmarkNelum Pokuna
(Lotus Pond) is one of symbol of China-Sri Lanka Friendship
Chinese international students, migrant workers, and business people have moved to the country in the 1990s and 2000s. In recent years, Chinese engineering companies who have been contracted for projects in Sri Lanka have also brought in migrant workers from China. The earliest such workers came in 1970 to work on the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. More recently they are working on infrastructure projects at Hambantota, such as the Hambantota International Airport and the Port of Hambantota. The port project, run by China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd, was reported to employ 328 Sri Lankan and 235 Chinese workers in 2008. Due to the influx of Chinese workers, Hambantota locals have even begun doing business growing and selling Chinese vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, choy sum, and kale for their kitchens. The Norocholai Power Station, a fossil fuel power station construction project near Puttalam, reportedly employs 900 Chinese engineers, helpers, welders, and fitters, with the assistance of only a few Sri Lankans. Other construction projects known to employ Chinese workers include the Colombo National Performing Arts Theatre (reported to employ 1,000 Chinese workers) and a water-supply upgrade project in Colombo run by China Geo Engineering Corporation.
Sri Lanka has become a very popular destination for Chinese tourists and now form the largest nationality of tourists coming to the country. In the first seven months of 2016, 1,173,618 Chinese tourists visited the country. Almost 1.8 million visited in 2015.
Chinese cuisine enjoys a lot of popularity in Sri Lanka and like Indian cuisine, restaurants serving Chinese cuisine can be found across the island.
Sinhalese language-dubbed Chinese and Hong Kong television dramas are popular and are broadcast on major television networks in Sri Lanka; subtitled copies are sold in DVD stores across the country as well.Chinese action films are popular and in the past enjoyed a lot of popularity in the country with CD stores across the country supplying the DVDs. Additionally, Chinese-origin TV channels and radio stations have begun broadcasting in the country including: China Central Television, China Radio International and Celestial Movies.