China will never use Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean for its strategic and security needs, the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang, said here on Saturday.
“From over a 1000 years ago, Sri Lanka has enjoyed its strategic location because the island is in the middle of the silk route. However, the question is how do you use your potential? How do you make use of this opportunity which you have? The main answer is peace and development. So, China will take every efforts to support Sri Lanka’s economic and social development. That is the need of the people of Sri Lanka. We will never use this advantage of Sri Lanka for our strategic or security needs,” Yi said while welcoming the Chinese navy’s hospital ship, Ark Peace, at the harbor here.
“We support Sri Lanka’s development. You can check what China has done in Sri Lanka in the past. We have built infrastructure, hospitals, airport, harbour. Sri Lanka also is the first country to get the largest donation and financial assistance from China.”
“We do not have any navy soldiers or any other soldiers in Sri Lanka. We have no intelligence in Sri Lanka. We have no such people present in Sri Lanka except the Chinese diplomats present here and I am the representative of China to Sri Lanka.”
“But we have so many CEOs, Engineers, businessmen, teachers, professors in Sri Lanka. What are they doing here? They are strengthening the cooperation between China and Sri Lanka and assist Sri Lanka and develop this island country and develop the economy and social affairs. We do what we say and we have kept our promise. So trust the Chinese as we are true friends of Sri Lanka,” Yi said.
Lanka to Buy Chinese Ships
Commander Sanath Uthpala, commander of the Sri Lankan navy’s Western Command said that Sri Lanka would be interested in buying Chinese ships and that some Lankan naval personnel would be going to China in September for training.
The Commander of PLA Navy Hospital Ship Ark Peace, Rear Admiral Guan Bai Lin, said that during the ship’s three-day sojourn in Colombo, the general could visit the ship and even seek medical treatment.
PLA Navy Hospital Ship Ark Peace has 381 officers on board and since it was commissioned in 2008, it has visited 29 countries, sailed 170,000 nautical miles and medically treated 12,000 people in various countries.
The ship, praised as an ‘Envoy of Peace’ has 300 sick beds, eight operating theatres, a severe burns ward, an ICU, a dental section, and out-patient service and many other medical facilities. It has even been able to perform sophisticated surgeries.