Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake addresses the students at Sichuan University

Hon. Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake meets the Sri Lankan students studying at the Sichuan University. Sri Lankan Ambassador to China, Mr. Karunathilake Amunugama was also present, Oct. 28th 2008Pix by : Siri Gunasekara

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake who is now visiting Sichuan Province in China addressed the students at the South Asia Institute of the Sichuan University on relations between Sri Lanka and China over the centuries. Oct. 28th 2008.

The Sichuan University is one of the oldest and prestigious Universities in China, established in 1896, now with a student population of over 40000 students of which nearly 1500 are foreign students.

Hon. Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake addresses the student at South Asia Institute of the Sichuan University, Oct. 28th 2008.

On arrival at the new campus of the University he was given a rousing welcome by a large gathering of students waving Sri Lanka and Chinese flags. He was received by the President of the University Xie Heping who is a distinguished member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He introduced Mr. Wickramanayake as an old friend of China.

The Prime Minister in his speech gave an overview of relations between the two countries going back to early centuries of the Common Era when contacts were established by an exchange of Buddhist missions. When he mentioned that Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China the students gave a wide applause. The two countries celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations last year.

Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr. Mahinda Bandusena, Sri Lankan Ambassador to China, Mr. Karunathilake Amunugama and other officials were also present at the Sichuan University.

He observed that 50 years was a short span of life in the history of a nation but the two countries had come a long way since 1957 and now they enjoyed a multifaceted relationship. He said that Sri Lanka had always considered China as a true and sincere friend. He paid tribute to China for its spectacular growth within the last three decades which had made China envy of the developed world and thanked China for giving assistance to many important projects in the country like the Puttalam power plant and the Hambantota harbour development project.

He also referred to the assistance given by China immediately after the tsunami both for meeting the immediate humanitarian requirements and long term reconstruction purposes. He complimented China and its people for successfully hosting the Beijing Olympics and winning the largest number of gold medals.

A part of Chinese and foreign students gathered at South Asia Institute of the Sichuan University.

He stressed that there was a need to forge more academic links between China and Sri Lanka and called on the Chinese students in the audience who he described as the future leaders of a great economically important nation to nurture and carry forward the relations into the future.

After his address the Prime Minister met with Sri Lanka students and discussed with them the common issues faced by them. There are 18 students in the University pursuing different disciplines including post-graduate studies.

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