On September 16 local time, President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka held a grand welcome ceremony for President Xi Jinping in Colombo. The two heads of state held talks in a warm and friendly atmosphere, spoke highly of the China-Sri Lanka friendship, jointly charted the course for the bilateral cooperation, and announced to initiate the China-Sri Lanka free trade negotiation so as to promote the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership for an in-depth development.
It is in good time to make sail in the broad sea with favorable wind. The ancient Maritime Silk Road is refreshing and opening up new channels.
At about 5:00 p.m. local time, the exclusive car carrying Xi Jinping and his wife Mme. Peng Liyuan headed to the presidential palace under the escort of motorcycle guards and cavalry along the way. Drum and bugle sounded on the two sides of the seafront boulevard, and Sri Lankan youths danced traditional Kandyan. The sound of the sea, hooves, singing and dancing turned into a symphony of friendship.
At the entrance of the presidential palace, Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan received warm welcome from President Rajapaksa and his wife. Sri Lankan children in festive attire stood along the two sides of the red carpet waving the national flags of China and Sri Lanka. Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan walked up to the children, leaned down and said hello to them. The two heads of state stepped onto the reviewing stand, the military band played the national anthems of China and Sri Lanka, and a twenty-one-gun salute was presented. Xi Jinping, accompanied by Rajapaksa, reviewed the guard of honor of the three armed forces. The two heads of state came back to the reviewing stand, and the national anthems of China and Sri Lanka were played again. The two heads of state introduced their accompanying personnel to each other.
After the welcome ceremony, the two heads of state held talks. Rajapaksa warmly welcomed Xi Jinping's state visit to Sri Lanka. He said that the Chinese president visiting Sri Lanka once again after 28 years is of important historic significance, and has been long-expected by the Sri Lankan people. He believed that this visit of President Xi Jinping is bound to deepen the bilateral cooperation and inject new impetus into the development of Sri Lanka-China relations.
Xi Jinping pointed out that upon our arrival in Sri Lanka, we received ceremonious welcome from the Sri Lankan government and people. Along the road from the airport to the hotel where we stay, the Sri Lankan people lined the streets, singing and dancing, to welcome us. Just now, President Rajapaksa held a grand welcome ceremony for me, which made us deeply moved.
Xi Jinping stressed China will stick to the path of peaceful development, uphold the concept of neighborhood diplomacy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, and communicate with neighboring countries sincerely and win trust through sincerity so as to develop good neighborly and friendly relations and promote common development. China and Sri Lanka are friends and partners of mutual trust and interdependence. The bilateral relations, having withstood the test of time and international vicissitudes, have become a model of friendly coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation between large and small countries. We firmly support Sri Lanka safeguarding its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the Sri Lankan people's choice of development path conforming to their national conditions.
Xi Jinping stressed that currently the Chinese people are striving to realize the "Chinese Dream" of achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, Sri Lanka has put forward the "Mahinda Vision" of national rejuvenation and development, and the objectives of the two sides correspond with each other. China is willing to work with Sri Lanka to seize the opportunity, plan the cooperation, and promote the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership for solid and in-depth development, so as to better benefit the two peoples. The two sides should maintain high-level mutual visits and make it play a leading role in the bilateral relations. China is willing to take the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation with Sri Lanka in such fields as the port construction and operation, the development and construction of industrial parks near the ports, maritime economy, and maritime security, as well as discuss and decide development-first and pilot-first projects so as to achieve early results. I hope that both sides accelerate the promotion of the free trade talks and strive to complete the construction of the China-Sri Lanka free trade zone at an early date. China encourages more Chinese enterprises to actively participate in the construction of industrial parks, special economic zones and infrastructure projects of Sri Lanka, and welcomes Sri Lanka to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member. The two sides should expand exchanges and cooperation in such fields as tourism, culture, education and religion. China is in support of carrying out the teaching of Chinese in Sri Lanka. China is willing to continue to enhance communication and coordination with Sri Lanka within multilateral frameworks such as the United Nations (UN) so as to jointly promote regional peace and development.
Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka and China enjoy a time-honored friendship, and the bilateral relationship has developed constantly on the basis of mutual respect and mutual trust. Sri Lanka appreciates China's long-term and precious support, which has given the Sri Lankan people tangible benefits. Sri Lanka highly appreciates China's adherence to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as well as the good-neighborliness and friendship policy, based on which Sri Lanka is willing to continuously develop the strategic cooperative partnership with China, and will firmly support China on issues concerning China's core interests and major concerns. President Xi Jinping's initiative of building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road coincides with Sri Lanka's vision of building offshore shipping center in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is willing to work with China to jointly well construct and operate such major cooperation projects as the Hambantota Port and the Colombo Port City, accelerate the bilateral free trade negotiations, and strengthen cooperation in such fields as economy and trade, energy, agriculture, infrastructure construction, and health care. Sri Lanka is willing to actively participate in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The two sides should expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges and carry forward the traditional friendship. Sri Lanka hopes that China sets up Confucius Institutes in Sri Lanka and helps Sri Lanka improve the levels of scientific research and talent cultivation in institutions of higher learning.
After the talks, under the witness of the two heads of state, both sides signed the "Action Plan on Deepening the Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the People's Republic of China and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka" and the cooperation agreements in the fields including economy and trade, infrastructure construction, marine scientific research, culture and education.
Xi Jinping and Rajapaksa jointly inaugurated China Cultural Center in Sri Lanka and China Guest of Honor Opening Ceremony for 2014 Colombo International Book Fair. Xi Jinping presented Rajapaksa with cultural classics of China, and Rajapaksa presented Xi Jinping with a rubbing of Zheng He Galle Stele and a picture album recording Sri Lanka-China relations.
The two heads of state jointly attended the initiation ceremony of video connection of Puttalam Coal Power Plant, an important cooperation project between China and Sri Lanka. At the ceremony, Xi Jinping stressed that China and Sri Lanka are good brothers sharing weal and woe, good partners seeking common development and good friends supporting each other. China wishes Sri Lanka faster and better development, and is willing to make concerted efforts with Sri Lanka to better benefit the two peoples with the achievements of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
Rajapaksa said that the project of Puttalam Coal Power Plant benefits millions of households in Sri Lanka and provides strong impetus for Sri Lanka's national development. He announced that, from this day, the prices of electricity and oil would be lowered nationwide. Facts have proved that China has made important contributions to Sri Lanka's economic and social development, and is a sincere friend and close partner of the Sri Lankan people.
Wang Huning, Li Zhanshu and Yang Jiechi attended the above activities.