What the Chinese Want?: A Prelude to Understanding China’s growing relations with Sri Lanka
Posted on January 24th, 2014

By Bandu de Silva

The question what the Chinese want came to my mind when I entered China 58 years ago. That was when I was posted to Sri Lanka’s pioneering  diplomatic mission in Beijing 1957 under Wilmot A Perera. I continued to ask that question for near four years I spent there.

My assignment in the Embassy was administration and also negotiating annual rice contracts under the bilateral agreements of 1952 and 1957 as well as cultural/media relations. These functions gave me access to a wide range of varied contacts though under normal circumstances such contacts were not easy to establish in China at that time.

When the Chinese officials understood that I was sympathetic, the opportunity for observation became more open. My official reports sent from there were filled with answers to this major question. These boiled down to the three basic needs of human society which we learned in our school days, namely, food, clothing and shelter.

These had to be elaborated, however, for purposes of my reports explaining the nomenclatures and popular slogans used by the Chinese in their usual traditional way and citing examples of how the country was meeting these challenges. After the long civil war and earlier, centuries of foreign exploitation, at times subjected to rapacity, the Chinese needed the basic requirements in abundance. 

Four years later, when I left China the answers remained the same, the problems of food, clothing and shelter, having worsened despite the great hardships the Chinese went through for four one full post-revolution decade, and the great sacrifices they made,  had not rewarded under Mao dze ”Dong’s rule as Party Chairman.

All Mao’s innovations during that decade carried under the slogan of “Great Leap Forward” and finally leading to the establishment of Communes, which shocked even the East-bloc Communists, could not lead China to the Communist Utopia that he dreamed of.  The final Cultural Revolution signified the total failure by trying to deviate attention in another direction.

Despite the changes which China has undergone in the decades intervening the 1949 Revolution, I find that in the final analysis, the needs of the Chinese remain the same as in any other country, but expressed in different terminology.         

 The present article is an attempt to look at the same question “What Chinese Want?” raised by a modern day head of a Services Company which has established close relations with China since 1987 which employs nearly 13,000 Chinese in its staff. Tom Doctoroff, the CEO of the Company Walter Thompson who writes with nine year long association with China with his Company’s business in China grown to be larger than that of all other international marketing services groups, combined, in his new book entitled “What Chinese Want?” ,2013, (Palgrave Macmillan, USA), conceives that what the Chinese want today is to be “more than a volume producer of low-priced generic goods but to acquire more services and be able to produce internationally recognized brand names of luxury goods….  They are now producing for the local market but are ambitious and diligent and will compete in developed markets”.

That is for the internal market with some exports to back the industry. I found during my three months stay in Australia very recently, that practically every item sold in Australian quality shops is a product of Chinese industry. These include even very high-priced shoes with brand names. The Australian products I found were meat and other food products and wines and beverages. Even fruits, I was not too sure as these were Winter and early Spring months when local fruits had reached the market.

The global Scene: Chinese investments

          Globally speaking, Doctoroff sees the Chinese looking for investments in foreign countries. The most recent AFP report says China’s investment in US doubled in US to US$ 14   billion and Chines firms accounted for 70,000 full time jobs in the US.(Ceylon Today, FT, 8 Jan, 2014). That is despite the recession facing the US economy. Perhaps, the recession is seen by the Chinese as opportunity to acquire investments.

In respect of India, another up-coming economic giant in Asia, when the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed eight agreements with China during his visit to Beijing October last year, seven of them pertained to economic affairs and one only on easing relations over border affairs.(Border Defence Cooperation Agreement ”BDEA). 

China’s growing international role as an internationally highly-rated investor, though generally escaped attention, India recognizing China’s potential, the Indian Prime Minister in his speech made in the Great Hall of Beijing invited Chinese investment in her US $ 3 Ttrillion investment plan in infrastructure development. It was this inevitable partnership between China and India that made Doctoroff to identify China- India growing relations as a “Match made in Heaven”. 

          It was Deng Xiao-Ping’s economic revolution which put China on a path of recovery from total collapse and paved the way for what one calls modernization. Though Maoism was ditched, as Jonathan Fenby observed (The Penguin History of Modern China, Revised edition, 2013, p.582), the Four Cardinal Principles Mao had put in place as the guiding light for the future were present under the new dispensation. This curious relic from the past, which Fenby calls an ‘uninspiring mix’ which is at odds with new economic reforms, meant that when challenges came, the only answer could be the resort to force, as so often in Chinese history. 

Growing Economic Giant vs Growing military power

As Doctoroff observes, a recent list has recorded the presence of 270 billionaires In China, not counting those who do not wish to be in limelight. This growing and already grown economic miracle which Doctoroff sees from his close association in a marketing field is not what others see in their chanceries. They see China’s growing military power, with a defence budget approaching US$ 80 billion, her nuclear capabilities, missile development which can now reach ships 900 miles away, space technology, her expanding blue water capacity, addition to aircraft career capacity, though so far they have only a recently fitted old Soviet ship used for training, much behind India in that respect, as threatening their vested interest.

That is to ignore the more important development in China as a country approaching the status of the largest economic power in terms of GDP growth by the year 2019. It is already the largest oil consuming country in the world, and the second-largest economy, “soaring from industry neophyte in the mid-1990s to manufacturing powerhouse today.” 

It is today the largest auto market, an unbelievable situation from the single taxi, a pre WWII vintage Czech Tetra run on foul-smelling petrol, which ran errands in Beijing from 1957 to 1960 when I was there. That was so for more years I suppose. As Doctoroff asks, naturally, with 1.3 billion population, couldn’t China herself to be expected to be heard in global politics? Already, that is happening with her growing share in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G20. In the IMF, though China along with India have no voting power yet, she holds an increasing share to the relief of original members. The Shanghai Cooperation which is attracting even the interests of the US is China’s own initiative.

China’s military budget, which as Doctoroff observes, is only a fraction (one eighth) of that of the US’s, China is seen expanding when the rest of Europe is cutting down. He sees that America will continue to underpin geopolitical clout, even as the country’s status as an 800 pound gorilla diminishes in a multipolar world. He also thinks that American values ”as opposed to political system ” will have appeal for generations. he also thinks China will not  invade other countries though she may seem militarily provocative over outlandish territorial claims in the South Sea, and vilification of Hilary Clinton when she had the temerity to challenge them, confrontation on the high seas with Japan and Philippines, and having installations of over 1000 ballistic weapons aimed at Taiwan.   

This veteran CEO argues that China and the West have inherently different strengths and weaknesses and ”if America accepts that it will no longer be the only tiger on the mountain ” we can happily coexist. China will always need partners, and so will we, he says. He does not see the Chinese economy and the Chinese people as threat to eclipse Western counterparts because he thinks that as the nation races towards super power status, it will remain quintessentially Chinese ”ambitious yet cautious at the core….China’s social structure and cosmological orientation yield strengths and weaknesses that compliment rather than debase, our own Western worldview.”      

China in Sri Lanka

          Two countries where China’s growing presence in Sri Lanka are being discussed are neighbouring India and the US. That perspective for US arises because despite all remonstrations to the contrary, she has not totally lost interest in the island as a strategically important country. Even if earlier priorities may have changed for the US, still the consideration of the island’s proximity to oil shipping routes in the Indian Ocean predominates her thinking.

 For India, it is a different question. India has been obsessed with two trends of thoughts. The one which did not lose its relevance was India’s interest to inherit Britain’s earlier imperial role as the regional power in the Indian Ocean. That may be more of a military concept which was earlier kept under close wrap but has since emerged out of hibernation into the forefront of Indian policy making, sending the country’s thoughts on Non-Alignment and Indian Ocean Peace Zone into the back-burner.  The other is India’s own problem of seeing China in adversarial terms since the eruption of border problems with China which led to a border war in which India was badly disadvantaged. Consequently, it has become customary in Indian circles as much as in some Sri Lankan circles influenced by indo- US strategic regimes, to look at China’s growing role in Sri Lanka very much from a security point of view.  

 This is despite India’s political and economic relations with China having taken a turn to the better in the new millennium. This new trend of improving India’s relations with China was demonstrated by the five day official visit of the Chinese Premier Zia Ronge in January 2002 which was followed by President Hu Jin Tao’s four day official visit to New Delhi in November 2006. These visits not only eased the tension that had marked relations between the two countries since the latter half of 1950s and the final border war but they were a pointer that there was a change of heart in China towards relations with India. The economically resurgent China was now looking at India differently, as much as other countries, in terms of prospective complementary economic partnership. India too began to respond positively and in the resultant mutual understanding that the two countries are two rising economic powers in the region and have much to benefit from mutual cooperation.

This became manifest in the eight agreements which were signed during Premier Manmohan Singh’s official visit to Beijing in October 2013. These were signed against the backdrop of realisation of the economic growth achieved by the two countries, China in the field of manufacture and India in the service sector. Consequently, it was seen that there was great potential for the two countries to benefit from each other’s economy in a complementary partnership. Seven of the agreements signed in 2013 pertained to cooperation in mutually beneficial fields.

One agreement alone as observed initially, pertained to Border Defence Cooperation (BDCA).It was significant that India agreed to the Actual Line of Control in this agreement which sent the old dispute over the border to the backburner. What was emphasised during Indian Prime Minister’s visit was that a stable global environment and a peaceful periphery were required for the two countries to promote the other economic related objectives. In any case, India was the looser on the border issue which she inherited from the British Raj. Strategically she was disadvantageously placed in relation to China which had the advantage of geography in her favour. Both countries could not be found carrying the old border-war baggage for ever.

China’s  growing international role as an internationally highly-rated investor  generally escapes attention in this assessment. India herself invited Chinese investment in her US $ 3 Trillion investment plan in infrastructure development.

Number One Infrastructure- builder and Investor

China has become the number one infrastructure- builder and investor in Sri Lanka during the last half decade. In foreign aid terms, China has now  outstripped Japan which held that honour earlier on account of Japan now facing slow growth rate in her economy while the Chinese economy is rising. China’s investments in Sri Lanka fall into place against the above mentioned perspective of her global performance.

These are but only a fraction of China’s global engagement in infrastructural building and investment but in Sri Lanka’s own context as a small country, and with India’s view of seeing China’s intrusion here as a big challenge to her in what she considers a legitimate area of her influence next door, the Chinese investments here may be seen as very ambitious and exceeding proportions. That sort of ambitious nature in Chinese business deals was something that Doctoroff recognised as being present in all Chinese  global engagements, and consequently, can be considered not unique to Sri Lanka’ situation.

Looking at the global context, already, over 800,000  Chinese are living and working in Africa alone working on projects associated with infrastructure development and investment. There are others further afield in the Mediterranean central Europe. As Doctoroff points, Beijing is also on a global acquisition spree including Swedish car companies, Greek infrastructure, an oil firm in Canada,  a mining company with assets in Central Africa ”all snapped by China in the past few years. A Chinese businessman and poet, Huang Nubo, Doctoroff claims, has offered $ 9 million for 300 sq kilometres  of wilderness in Iceland which is 0.3 per cent of the country, to build a tourist facility (a $ 100 million hotel) but here some suspect ulterior motives

Indian View of China’s relations with Sri Lanka  

India looking at Sri Lanka’s growing relations ‘s with China commenced only after the eruption of the border war with China. Premier Jawaharlal Nehru’s remonstration against Prime Minister Kotalawale in Bandung in 1956 for upsetting the atmosphere created by China’s willingness to join other Asian nations in a spirit of co-operation giving up the earlier much suspected interference in Asia, pointed the extent Indo-Chinese relations were then moving.  Earlier, Prime Minister Zhou ”en Lai undertook a round of diplomatic visits to China’s neighbouring states like Myanmar and India during which India and China signed a pact based on Pancassela, the five principles on which Chinese-Indian relations were to be governed.

That included peaceful settlement of disputes. Later ramifications in bi-lateral relations which began to manifest first after the eruption of the Tibetan issue over which India tried to intercede on behalf of Nepali businessmen claiming they were Indian citizens and more so over what India considered as a buffer state coming under strict control of Beijng, and India finding that the Chinese had built a road link with Ladak passing over territory which India had considered its own, which finally/ sparked off the border war.

The events that followed led to the hardening of the situation on both sides, coming down to people’s level mobilizing popular sentiments against each other. It had some effects on both countries. In China, it helped to deviate attention from non-performance in the economic field under the new economic policies while in India it helped to create a new feeling of nationalism and suppress growing centrifugal tendencies at state level.

In conclusion

          China entering into relationship with Sri Lanka is not new. It goes back to early 1950s when the two countries signed the first Trade and Payments Agreement of 1952. In recent times, China made great strides during the latter part of the Eelam war when Sri Lanka looked to her for military hardware. These were followed by Chinese participation in a number of infrastructure building projects like Norachaolai coal power project, the Hambantota port project, Mattala International Airport project, Colombo-Katunayake Highway project, construction of a section of the northern railway, the A 9 road development project, and the reclamation of the sea in front of Galle Face Green and building infrastructure on that property, to mention some.  Other investment projects envisaged include the seven star Shangri-La Hotel Project at Galle Face which is Chinese investment.

Considered against Doctoroff’s assessment of Chinese investment overseas, then China’s participation in infrastructural projects in Sri Lanka as well as investment projects need not be looked at as security related ones.

Despite these realities of improving relations between China and India, yet geo-politics being what they are, it is difficult to think that the alternative perspective of security considerations will altogether disappear from Indian mind, particularly in its security establishment. Besides, India’s growing security partnership with the US is keeping the security aspect alive. India’s increasing partnership in the Indian Ocean security arrangements especially in guarding the Malay Strait and more recently over the piratical activities in the East African coastal areas point to Indo-US collaboration in the security measures in the Indian Ocean area.

China’s entry to the Blue Waters even to safeguard her shipping interests off the African coast came to be viewed suspiciously. Within Sri Lanka, sections of the media and pro-Indo-US lobbies have been active in presenting the gloomy side of the picture of increasing Chinese engagements in the island by placing emphasis on such slogan like the ‘string of pearls’ harbours China has developed from Myanmar to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and others as any directed as a threat to India’s security.                    

[The writer, who was Sri Lanka’s senior Ambassador in Europe is the only remaining member of the Sri Lanka’s first diplomatic team sent to China].

31 Responses to “What the Chinese Want?: A Prelude to Understanding China’s growing relations with Sri Lanka”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    China’s involvement in SL MUST be INCREASED.

    China is Asia’s largest economy.
    China is Asia’s largest population.
    China is Asia’s biggest defence spender.
    China is Asia’s biggest donor.

    Only a fool would try to “escape” from China.
    Even Endia is now at China’s FEET!!

  2. douglas Says:

    I would advise Sri Lanka Government to follow our aged old saying: “THAMA HISTA THMA ATHAMAYA SEVENELLA”. ( It is your own hand that provides you shelter).

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    In the DRUDGE Report an article regarding China’s impending economic problems has to be pointed. I copied and pasted the article for if it is true it would have a severe impact on Sri Lanka:

    Mega Default In China Scheduled For January 31

    On Friday, Chinese state media reported that China Credit Trust Co. warned investors that they may not be repaid when one of its wealth management products matures on January 31, the first day of the Year of the Horse.

    The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China sold the China Credit Trust product to its customers in inland Shanxi province. This bank, the world’s largest by assets, on Thursday suggested it will not compensate investors, stating in a phone interview with Reuters that “a situation completely does not exist in which ICBC will assume the main responsibility
    There should be no mystery why this investment, known as “2010 China Credit-Credit Equals Gold #1 Collective Trust Product,” is on the verge of default. China Credit Trust loaned the proceeds from sales of the 3.03 billion-yuan ($496.2 million) product to unlisted Shanxi Zhenfu Energy Group, a coal miner. The coal company probably is paying something like 12% for the money because Credit Equals Gold promised a 10% annual return to investors—more than three times current bank deposit rates—and China Credit Trust undoubtedly took a hefty cut of the interest.

    Zhenfu was undoubtedly desperate for money. One of its vice chairmen was arrested in May 2012 for taking deposits without a banking license, undoubtedly trying to raise funds through unconventional channels. In any event, the company was permitted to borrow long after it should have been stopped—reports indicate that it had accumulated 5.9 billion yuan in obligations. Zhenfu, according to one Chinese newspaper account, has already been declared bankrupt with assets of less than 500 million yuan.

    The Credit Equals Gold product is not the first troubled WMP, as these investments are known, to risk nonpayment, but Chinese officials have always managed to make investors whole. CITIC Trust did that in 2013 on a steel-loan product in Hubei province, and a mysterious third-party guarantee rescued a Hua Xia Bank WMP. An investment marketed by ICBC’s Suzhou branch was similarly repaid.

    There has never been a default—other than one of timing—of a WMP, so the Credit Equals Gold product could be the first. If it is, it will edge out the WMP that invested in loans to Liansheng Resources Group, another Shanxi coal miner. Jilin Trust packaged Liansheng’s loans into a wealth management product sold by China Construction Bank , the country’s second-largest lender by assets, to its customers. Liansheng is in bankruptcy, and it looks like the WMP holders will not be repaid in full.

    A WMP default, whether relating to Liansheng or Zhenfu, could devastate the Chinese banking system and the larger economy as well. In short, China’s growth since the end of 2008 has been dependent on ultra-loose credit first channeled through state banks, like ICBC and Construction Bank, and then through the WMPs, which permitted the state banks to avoid credit risk. Any disruption in the flow of cash from investors to dodgy borrowers through WMPs would rock China with sky-high interest rates or a precipitous plunge in credit, probably both. The result? The best outcome would be decades of misery, what we saw in Japan after its bubble burst in the early 1990s.

    Most analysts don’t worry about a WMP default. Their argument is that the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, is encouraging a failure of the Zhenfu product to teach investors to appreciate risk and such lesson will improve the allocation of credit nationwide. Furthermore, they reason the central authorities would never allow a default to threaten the system.

    Observers make the logical argument that “to have a market meltdown, you have to have a market” and China does not have one. Instead, Beijing technocrats dictate outcomes.

    That’s correct, but that is also why China is now heading to catastrophic failure. Because Chinese leaders have the power to prevent corrections, they do so. Because they do so, the underlying imbalances become larger. Because the underlying imbalances become larger, the inevitable corrections are severe. Downturns, which Beijing hates, are essential, allowing adjustments to be made while they are still relatively minor. The last year-on-year contraction in China’s gross domestic product, according to the official National Bureau of Statistics, occurred in 1976, the year Mao Zedong died.

    Why will China’s next correction be historic in its severity? Because Chinese leaders will prevent adjustments until they no longer have the ability to do so. When they no longer have that ability, their system will simply fail. Then, there will be nothing they can do to prevent the freefall.

    We are almost at that critical point, as events last June and December demonstrate. The PBOC did not try to tighten credit as analysts said in June and December; it simply did not add liquidity. The failure to add liquidity caused interbank rates to soar and banks to default on their interbank obligations. In the face of the resulting crises, the central bank backed down both times, injecting more money into state banks and the economy. So Chinese leaders showed us twice last year that they now have no ability—or no will—to deal with the most important issue they face, the out-of-control creation of debt.

    There are rumors that local authorities in Shanxi will either find cash so that Liansheng can pay back its loans or force institutions to roll over the WMP marketed by Jilin Trust. Similarly, there are suggestions that ICBC, despite its we’re-not-responsible statement, will produce dough for the Credit Equals Gold investors. Others say China Credit Trust, China’s third-largest such group as measured by assets, will repay investors in part. Repayment will avoid an historic default and postpone a reckoning. In all probability, authorities will be able to get past Zhenfu if they try to do so.

    Even if Beijing makes sure there is no default on January 31, we should not feel relief. Just as Zhenfu followed Liansheng, there will be another WMP borrower on the edge of disaster after Zhenfu. And there are many Lianshengs and Zhenfus out there. There may have been 11 trillion yuan in WMPs at the end of last year.

    And at the same time China’s money supply and credit are still expanding. Last year, the closely watched M2 increased by only 13.6%, down from 2012’s 13.8% growth. Optimists say China is getting its credit addiction under control, but that’s not correct. In fact, credit expanded by at least 20% last year as money poured into new channels not measured by traditional statistics. That appears to be in excess of credit expansion in 2012.

    Even if credit expansion slowed last year, Silvercrest Asset Management’s Patrick Chovanec tells us why we should be concerned. As he wrote today, “Looking purely at the decline in the year-on-year rate of credit expansion is kind of like arguing that if I chase my shot of vodka with a pint of beer, I’m actually exercising moderation because the alcohol proof level of my drinks is falling.”

  4. Nanda Says:

    Endia is Asia’s Rape Country
    Endia is Asia’s largest population of poverty.
    Endia is Asia’s biggest terrorism supporter.
    Endia is Asia’s biggest corrupt nation.

    Yet Endia is called OUR FRIEND.
    People who say “ENDIA is our friend” should be Evil.

  5. Lorenzo Says:


    Worse! MR says Endia is his RELATIVE. Disgusting to have RAPISTS as one’s relatives!

    No wonder some of his men tried to COPY Endia in doing those things to a Russian prostitute and killing her British Palestinian client.

  6. Sirih Says:

    Its so sad to see Colombians and UNP bashing China since Chinese have great admiration for SL people and even great respect for Mrs B.. They have long memories and understand the colonial plunder that happened with British, Yanks, and Other europeans and of course brutal treatment they got from the Japanese.
    If you want to see colonial destruction , just go to the Beijing summer palace and have a look… Mention this to those so called west and they will run away with shame.
    Another 10 yrs past and China will show those western morons what to do with their rhightists BS.

  7. Nanda Says:

    What is the significance of your report ?
    What has that got to do with Sri Lanka ?
    What should Sri Lanka do with regard to your report ?
    Are you saying Endia is a better party to be associated with ?

  8. Sirih Says:

    @Bandu, whole article is full of innuendos and some are out of date if you compare what happen with red guards … China has moved on except some people, who are organ grinders for the colonial west still throwing mud at China with out full facts… You should ask where SL’s national interest lies today ? And not parroting to the interest parties with out giving some thoughts (old) to present national crises…
    At present hardly any SL foreign diplomat is not qualifies for the role and none of them defend the country… When ch4 forged video came in 2009, I had so many foreign ambassadors calling me and ask me to send my confidential UN submissions to them. (One guy even call me at 4 AM ).. I told all of them politely to mind their own business and let me handle this since this is much wider agenda at place by interested parties…
    Re. shoes you mention by branded and made in China made me laugh since (T&C) I still buy hand made shoes from a British manufacturer for almost 40 yrs and no Chinese can match that quality.
    Issue is Chinese admit their lack of quality but happy to learn from others and improve them in due course… Koreans are opposite, and they will sell you nasty stuff inside buy coated with beauty out side. Indians of course never made anything nice but will cheat you out of your money by promising the earth and try to get out of the contract after you sign with them.
    Present SL rulers need to be smart about who got best from foreign sources for us and how we evolve for next century and unfortunately too many crooks are around the president at present.

  9. Nanda Says:

    A man who met president face to face knows what is happening around him.
    Sad indeed.

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    DIP-LOW-MATS of SL are certainly lousy people of NO knowledge of the world but thinks they know everything.

    UNP era dip-low-mats are worse. They are on a mission to DISCREDIT SL as best they can and RUIN SL’s friendship with important and useful countries.

    Otherwise SL will not be HUMILIATED year after year at the UNHRC.

    SL should ONLY care about what is BEST for SL. National interest is what lacks in most of them.

  11. Lorenzo Says:

    NOW SF is another DISGUSTING piece of dirt.

    In Balapitiya he had said VP was better than MR. He had said MR comes after his family members but VP never did that. He said APSARS could not see DANUNA for 6 years because of MR!! Not true. Apsara and Danuna marriage broke down long ago. MR had nothing to do with it.

    SF had said MR is not worth even a strand of hair of VP.

    He had also said the man who drove taxis in Abu Dhabi now owns 4 planes! Again not true.

  12. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Nanda: you stated:

    What is the significance of your report ?
    What has that got to do with Sri Lanka ?
    What should Sri Lanka do with regard to your report ?
    Are you saying Endia is a better party to be associated with ?

    I came across this article that showed a different and potentially dangerous picture of China’s economy. If one is to rely on China it is best to know all aspects of her economy and not one side of it. It was for the favor of Sri Lanka that I put that article in. I never stated Sri Lanka’s foreign investors are limited to China and India. Question to you. Since I have started commenting I noticed you seem to single my comments out for criticism. Do you hold a personal grudge against me or my comments?

  13. Sirih Says:

    BTW, China economy is contracting and central govt. is flooding money via their supporters to get the economy going… Problem is most of these supporters, flush the money in foreign adventure and some are investing in gold and bond and this is not what central govt. want..

    Chinese manufacturing it self is so strong and this will keep the economy moving even at slow phase, but most western reports don’t get the proper Chinese picture since its too vast and spread all over massive area and some of these areas are restricted to westerners .

    I once went to a granite factory in south and I was in a shock since factory is 9 kms long and kind of a scale that no country is capable of doing so.

  14. Fran Diaz Says:

    I agree with douglas when he says : “THAMA HISTA THMA ATHAMAYA SEVENELLA”. ( It is your own hand that provides you shelter)”.

    Sri Lanka is an ancient country and the People of Lanka ought to know this truth.

    There is hot competition from businesses from both west and east to gain spots in Lanka economy. Do we have the LAWS in place and the CLOUT to implement the laws to govern big businesses ? Lanka is yet to even implement the 6-A (Law of Land from 1986). Forewarned is forearmed.

  15. Fran Diaz Says:

    Latest trend is east vs west competition for business from abroad ?
    Watch it, Lanka. Have the Laws in place for this part of Development.
    Stuff from abroad must not pollute air, water or food supply. See what has happened with the water table of 3 Provinces and
    out of control CKD !
    In ancient times, Lanka was the ‘Granary of the East’. What did those farmers of that time apply to the soil as fertilizer and how did they keep out pests ?

  16. Lorenzo Says:


    SL needs friends as it always did.

    China and SL were BEST friends for thousands of years.

    SL cannot be a RECLUSE like “dog on a leash”.

  17. Fran Diaz Says:


    No need to be a ‘dog on a leash’. Do business that suits Lanka, in smaller ways, so we can handle the outfits, and in keeping with our size. Sri Lanka is not a powerful ex-Empire. The Law re businesses must be in place and acted on when necessary.
    Also recall the Bhopal (India) Union Carbide gas tragedy (1984), still not settled, where thousands were affected by the poison gas leak and got maimed for life and many died. My question is : are we ready with the protective laws, awareness, necessary ? Do we have enough qualified personnel to handle the influx of businesses ? just to name a few requisites.

    And, a Reminder : 6-A is not acted on. We ARE a ‘dog on a leash’ at present, aren’t we ?

    Also, another Reminder, improper use of foreign imported items as shown by the poisoned waters of 3 Provinces by over use of fertilizers, insecticides etc. Around 13 people die in Lanka EVERY DAY due to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) from the poisoned water table.


    Another Question of the century for Lankans : So, what is the use of the Law if not acted on ? How do ordinary Lankans protect themselves, because foreign businesses are mainly concerned with Profit.

  18. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Sirih: Thank you for your comment. I came across that article which I copied and pasted for if that is true then the picture of an ever rising China may face economic bubbles that would have broad repercussions across the world. I agree that the Chinese economy has rapidly expanded but going by the article I posted it has been dictated by Beijing. Also keep in mind that the US economy is still the largest in the world and much larger than China’s, including military expenditures. China’s GDP is at 2 trillion and the US at 14 trillion (factoring in the debt of both nations).
    But here is the problem. If China is going to face a major economic crisis the first thing Beijing will most likely do is dump the US debt held in bonds at the tune of two trillion. That would be a global economic disaster for the world is counting on the Chinese economy more and more. The world cannot afford a Chinese economic collapse along with the US and the EU.

  19. Nanda Says:

    “Since I have started commenting I noticed you seem to single my comments out for criticism. Do you hold a personal grudge against me or my comments?”

    No. Not at all. But I am cautious of your brand of “patriotism”.

    But I asked those questions simply because you appeared to be cutting and pasting something without clearly critically examining it. Also you did not suggested anything, at least to be “cautious” being aligning with China.

  20. Nanda Says:

    Sri Lanka needs a “POWERFUL ALLY”. No point trying to be friends with everyone. ALLY does not mean to agree to everything.
    Our only choice is China, if they want us, do it honestly not double cross like MR doing.

  21. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Nanda: Thank you for your reply. I only hope that your dedication and concern is equally applied to other commenters and not just to me. I have read other comments including yours which do not meet my standards but that is the nature of comments. Please take it as a consolation that I am not some double agent or someone who deserves your special concern. I promise you my comments are meant to help and not to sabotage. I will from now on look forward to your equal critiques of other comments made on this forum.

  22. Fran Diaz Says:

    Some thoughts on our present situation :

    Sri Lanka, small in size has to be very astute in her dealings with large countries, and even small countries in the neighborhood.
    It seems to me that Lanka is the chosen ‘whipping boy’ of Asia, or so it seems to the detached Observer. Most countries in Asia have been divided along the Cold War players, one way or another. The Cold War is over (1991), but the aftermath continues into politics/power, and business elbowing.

    Sri Lanka has to stay Non-Aligned, as far as is possible. Is Colombo Non-Aligned ? What about the masses in the rural areas, irrespective of ethnicity & religion ?

    It is easier for Lanka to fly with the west due to past Colonisation, with the English language in place, education & business relations in place. Also note that Vasudeva Nanayakkara is saying to give equal status to Sinhala & Tamil ! Is this Patriotism or political expediency with Wigneswaran ?

    Friendship with China is a good thing, but there again language is a barrier and China is already over crowded as are most nations. Birth control material ought to given to people free or highly subsidized.

    It seems to me that the best way forward for Lanka is to unite WITHIN Lanka (Colombo / Rural unity for LOCAL production of Food, other goods & services, quality Education, etc.) whilst maintaining a fair Non-Aligned relationship with the rest of the world. Study how Switzerland (land locked) did just that during the WW II. Throw out the ‘divide & rule’ of British times – it suited only the Colonists.

    So long as Lankans depend on the outside for sustenance (both material & spiritual), we are either ‘sitting ducks’ or ‘dead ducks’, gaining little respect from the outside world. Christ said ‘the Kingdom of God (Heaven) is Within You’ (Matthew 23:36) and the Buddha said “Truth is Within You”. With such Common Ground, we cannot lose !

  23. Fran Diaz Says:

    read as : ” …. Sinhala & Tamil languages …”

  24. . Says:

    Bandu de Silva Says;
    On Responses to my article “What the Chinese Want?”

    Almost all comments on my article are off the point. The basic issue I raised was that Chinese infrastructure development and investments in Sri Lanka need not be looked from security point of view as circles in our neighbouring country, India, and the US and their lobbyists in Sri Lanka do, but these could be examined as resulting from China’s own growth economically and from the perspective of her already advanced global engagements.

    BW has raised some concerns about the stability of the Chinese economy and cited a banking issue. These do not affect the main burden of my argument. Capitalist countries are today facing serious economic woes – Mrs Obama was working in soup kitchens sometime back to dole out soup to unemployed; and vegetables were being grown even in the backyard of White House. But still we look for investments from them.

    It is not that some of problems have not been spotted with the Chinese economy and the political control over it. Tom Doctoroff whom I cited extensively because his views were not academic but down –to –earth observations, which I myself found acceptable as a keen observer of Chinese affairs for near 60 years, did not fail to discuss some of these problematic areas like the presence of seeds of uncertainty over both political and economic future and when he asked if the Chinese growth model was facing critical danger. He called the latter a Myth and listed it as the 7th Myth about China in his list of TEN MYTHS discussed in the Epilogue of his recent book. He saw how these issues could be overcome. All these aspects could not be discussed in my article whose scope was limited. Besides, they were not relevant to our immediate issue.

    The other commentator, one SIRIH, who has posted several comments appears to a very confused individual and even seems to contradict himself. One clear objective of his seems to be not to discuss the subject presented and its contents, but to go at the person who has presented it. Why does is say my article is full of innuendos? Why doesn’t he point them out and say where he disagrees with me. Why say my views are old? I do not hold a monopoly to understanding China, a subject on which the best of authorities have failed. but I had the opportunity of closely observing Chinese developments during a very crucial period when the transformation too Socialism was taking place including the establishment of Communes. that was Mao’s challenge to his East European counterparts.

    Then what about Tom Doctorroff’s views who writes from there based in Shanghai looking at things from a down-to- earth position? Is Shrih merely trying to show off? Nothing more. He reminds me of the Mahayanist saying that the dog runs after the clod thrown at him but not at the person who thows it. Very apt analogy, indeed!

    Doesn’t his picking up that silly issue of branded Chinese shoes- selling in Australian quality shops which I referred to point out that against Doctoroff’s view branded Chinese products are yet to reach the international market, already, they are on the shelves of quality shops, point to his disagreeing just to make an impression?. I did not make a wild guess but wrote with the experience of visits to these shops a few weeks back to which I was referred by an Australian chiropodist (Podiatrist). I could not afford the Chinese box-calf shoes which were priced around Aus$ 300 a pair but settled down to Moccasins at $165 a pair. These were not any special shoes but one paid for the brand name.

    What is he trying to do by comparing British shoes he has been wearing for the last 40 years? Exposing his sartorial elegance as a user of hand-made English shoes and the Chinese products bear no comparison? Here he turns critic of the Chinese as against his earlier stand. If the exposure of sartorial elegance is his intention I can beat him by twenty years because I have myself been wearing those hand-made English shoes which he seems to speak of, for near 60 years. I still have two pairs which are now 30 years or more old, still doing well and shining. Once a lady who saw me wearing a pair ten years back asked me what shoes they were and where I purchased them. Perhaps, she had not seen such elegance and shine in her husband’s shoes, spit-polished by his batman. Next time I knew was that the husband had taken –up an appointment as High Commissioner to London! Was it all because of a pair of shoes?

    What is the object of his reminding about the Red Guards? Yes, Mao made such silly mistakes like reducing the cultivated acerage because his cadres trebled crops on deep ploughed land, some using dynamite for deep digging! Result? A serious crop failure next harvest and virtual famine! Are these exposures of Mao’s follies, the innuendoes Sirih is speaking of? Or are they my reference to the West’s and Japan’s inhuman treatment of China in the 19th century and early 20th century?

    Bandu de Silva

  25. Nanda Says:

    You seems to be attacking Sirih unncessarily. What about inaccuracies in your write up ?

    “China entering into relationship with Sri Lanka is not new. It goes back to early 1950s when the two countries signed the first Trade and Payments Agreement of 1952. In recent times, China made great strides during the latter part of the Eelam war when Sri Lanka looked to her for military hardware. These were followed by Chinese participation in a number of infrastructure building projects like Norachaolai coal power project, the Hambantota port project, Mattala International Airport project, Colombo-Katunayake Highway project, construction of a section of the northern railway, the A 9 road development project, and the reclamation of the sea in front of Galle Face Green and building infrastructure on that property, to mention some. Other investment projects envisaged include the seven star Shangri-La Hotel Project at Galle Face which is Chinese investment. ”

    You are confusing the reader here by mixing private investments and “Chinese Government” relationships. Some of those projects you mentioned ( for example Shangri-La) are not “Chinese Governement Invstements” .

  26. Sirih Says:

    @Bandu, steady on chap, take facts as facts and my point to you is when it come to China and westerners who write about China have no clue what they are writing…
    Some are based on complete ignorance and they create $4,000 dollar reports to sell to others and global consulting firms always ask me if these are correct and my answer is 60% are absolute rubbish.

    Second type of reports are written by intelligence agencies using civilian cover and I do not have explain why they do it.

    If you want to know China go there and take a look at them by your self rather than reading from a report that has nothing to do with China or stop mixing red China with modern China since they are two different parts even though they are in the same century.

    Re. SL, we have a China as a political and commercial friend and as any patriot it is countries well being is the foremost issue and if you go into China bashing because you prefer/believe, western culture or prefer colonial powers then we have a issue.

    Bottom line is who give a toss, about global politics since we are small and we need to look after our national interest… If you study western behaviour after 2nd world war you will learn that they have no interest to keep small countries independent and they still try to use commercial or HR issues to get their agenda to the front.

    Go and live in China and see how cultured they are and how polite they are and do not compare mainland Chinese to HK to Taiwanese since they are poles apart..

    I have shifted Cisco, and Ericsson R&D investment from India to China and feel proud how good these youngsters are unlike damn Indians always cheat, sell IP to the highest bidders etc..
    Cisco investment stared with US$ 20 million and now it has over taken 2 Billion and rising..

    BTW when I started Chinese R&D and request funding, it is people like you who are dooms sayers that gave red cards to the project, and how wrong those people are..

    Chinese invented gun powder but they never made offensive weapon out of it… you need to rethink about sleeping giant that has been humiliated by so called righteous people who are nothing but hooligans in silk suits.

  27. MuhammadFS Says:

    Nothing worse than a retired diplomat personally attacking a commentator just for expressing his views. I hope no foreigner sees this. We will be the laughing stock.

    Srilankan leaders and diplomats need to learn tolerance and acceptance of others’ right to express their views. At least now.

    Any seasoned businessman would tell you the future is in China. If anyone doubts it, he has no knowledge or experience. Two decades ago local importers went to Singapore. Now they go to China. Chinese like face to face deals. Some can speak English now. Teaching Chinese in local schools is a good start.

  28. . Says:

    From Bandu de Silva
    I had no intention of rejoining this discussion as it should have been clear to anyone with a clear mind where I stood on the issue of the Chinese. Sirih’s last comment in clarifying where he himself stands over it is helpful. However, the following comment might lead to confusion as he seems to be hanging on to an imagined idea that I had offered an adversarial opinion about the Chinese which was never my intention or what my article brings out. (Sic). “….people like you who are dooms sayers….”
    “Re. SL, we have a China as a political and commercial friend and as any patriot it is countries well being is the foremost issue and if you go into China bashing because you prefer/believe, western culture or prefer colonial powers then we have a issue.”
    “BTW when I started Chinese R&D and request funding, it is people like you who are dooms sayers that gave red cards to the project, and how wrong those people are.”
    Not the least, if it was so intended, through a misconception of what I wrote. I hope it remains a general observation at those “doom-sayers’ but not one directed at me and he can withdraw the reservation.
    If that can be agreed, I see no disagreement between what Sirih finally says and what I was trying to explain in my article. The only difference is I would not go to compare the Chinese with any other as business partners as Sirih has done with what seems to be his personal experience of doing business with Indians and later with the Chinese in a selected field. That was not the purpose of my article. I have some experience of dealing with other people as a principal negotiator for the government on agreements on tea and oil, and wheat purchases as much as loan agreements but I would not bring those perspective to bear on a comparison with the Chinese. As a former official I wish to refrain from publicly expressing any comparative personal views. However, I have no problems with Sirih for his holding, as a seeming private-sector personality, to such personal views on different people. That is his privilege.
    As for the other observation,
    “Go and live in China and see how cultured they are and how polite they are and do not compare mainland Chinese to HK to Taiwanese since they are poles apart..”
    Yes, I have lived there, though at different times, for near four years without a break breathing the air just outside the Capital, in Chenkoman wei. (Outside the Gate of Chenkoman), enjoying Chinese cuisine, visiting Chinese village fairs, circuses, open cinemas and Opera sessions where I met the ordinary Chinese, besides visiting innumerable cultural sites, factories, crèches, community dining rooms, and travelling tens of thousands of miles by train and river boats not just confining myself to the diplomatic circles. I have read as much as possible on ancient Chines culture browsing seated on the floor of Tundang Pilo (closed Bazzar), through hundreds of volumes which were thrown into the streets from the Beijing University Library in the 1950s including many Mahayanist texts, yet, I agree that it is not easy to understand the many layers of deep-seated Chinese cultural ethos which govern their life. For example, one can see how family life has come back to China despite the fervent attempt to destroy the hold of family as an obstruction to the progress of Socialism. Under Mao dze dong, even the family kitchen, the centre of family activity was dismantled when pots and pans were required to be sent to be melted in backyard steel –making furnaces; children were separated from parents and sent to crèches, people had to go to communal dining halls for their meals, then based on calorie- values though not filling and lacking in variety, and culmination with Peoples’ Communes. But today, from all accounts, family has re-emerged as the centre of both social and economic activity. In economic activity, family (at times called ‘clan’) has emerged as the unit of economic activity. The clan joins in contributing to dowry now demanded by the middle class suitors in the form of high-priced apartments, high –prices prestige cars, etc.
    To illustrate a point that Sirih has stressed about “how cultured” [I would say even sensitive] the Chinese are, suffice it to say in agreement that I have had dealings with the Chinese, not with private parties but officials, on another restricted field of negotiating rice contracts for over nearly four years. Even two hours before I left China I was negotiating the final rice contract with the Director Tsou, head of the Fourth Department (Asia) of the Ministry of Trade, a highly cultured overseas-returned American educated Chinese. After several days of negotiations over price, it looked as if there was no solution. I had to leave the premises as my train was leaving for Kwantung (Canton) in two hours at 9.00 P.M. As I was closing my arguments, I thanked the Chinese officials for a near four year partnership and remarked: “What do I take back, finally?” There was a grim silence. The Director asked me to wait for the last cup of green tea. I waited. I saw the Chinese officials in a deep discussion. Ten minutes later they returned all full of smiles. Director Tsou Commenced. “No. You will not go empty handed. You will have something special take back. That is our agreement to the price you offered for the 200,000 m/t of rice”. In real terms, I was able to save to the government Pound Stg. 200, 000 on that contract alone by under-bidding on the upper limit allowed to me by the government. As Ambassador Gopallawa remarked on that occasion, I had saved over Pound Stg 800, 000 to the government over the years I dealt with rice contracts. This may seem a very small figure in terms of billions involved in investment projects.
    I have related this episode which I briefly referred to in my contribution to the Volume published in honour of Dr. Vernon Mendis and elsewhere because it is relevant to the understanding of the Chinese mind. I have no problems with Sirih on that account of understanding the Chinese mind.
    As for Nanda’s comment, my mixing up private investment and [Chinese ]govt projects. I had no such confusion in my mind though he seems to be confused. I have dealt with negotiating govt projects with countries which were financed through loans and grants govts and/or overseas banks and private investment, and with investments. There was no reason for me to be confused. I knew the Shangri-la was an investment by Hong Kong based leisure firm and their Shangri LA Hambantota 375 Hotel Resort and Spa project with 18 hole golf Course on 145 acres is scheduled to open in 2015. No confusion. I have throughout spoken of Chinese Infrastructure projects and investments separately but taken them together as Chinese engagements in SrI Lanka which are so conceived together by critics in judging Chinese presence in Sri Lanka [with security dimensions. It was wrong for critics to see loans (aid) projects as security involved. One difference with Chinese loan (aid) projects is that Chinese workers are seen engaged in these projects while other countries do not do so. Today’s news says there are 12,000 Chinese working in projects in Sri Lanka. The Chinese working in Africa alone which I quoted was 800,000. I hope Nanda can disabuse his mind.
    The problem is some commentators seem to introduce imagined ideas which are not in the original presentation. This I believe is due to superficial reading and the hurry to offer comments.
    Bandu de Silva

  29. Lorenzo Says:


    Catholic bishop Kasippu Joseph Goebbels plans to meet Anglican bishop DESMOND TUTU around Geneva UNHRC time to complain about Tamil genocide, war crimes and other racist nonsense. He has collected a LARGE PILE of anti-SL CDs, documents and files. He plans to hand these over to Desmond Tutu.

    Why Desmond Tutu?

    A google search tells me Desmond Tutu is or was a member of the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT and the GENOCIDE PREVENTION COMMITEE!!

    Their plan is clear.

    KJG must be stopped now before it is too late.

    Wrote to MOD and other jokers but no response. Some emails returned. As usual they cannot be reached. No other option. Please bring this to their attention.


  30. Nanda Says:

    Will try using one of my sources. But whether our FOOLS will take action ?

    How to stop him ? Must cancel passport.

  31. aloy Says:

    Irrespective of whether Lorenzo’s source is giving true or false picture the Bishops council should take action now as thy have been making false allegations; they should ask the trio not to get involved in local or international politics concerning SL. If they do not take that advice they should not be part of that body and should be expelled.
    If any of them travel to Geneva and misrepresent facts they should be arrested on return an made to account for their actions. We cannot afford to go through few more decades of Tiger wars fuelled by Catholic clergy.

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