Participate in the current economic development efforts and be an asset to Motherland – Prime Minister calls upon Sri Lankans abroad

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena called upon the Sri Lankan community abroad to get involved in the current economic drive of the Motherland by sharing their professional experiences and adopting innovative methods created in their respective fields.

Speaking at a meeting of Sri Lankan professionals in China at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing on 25.03.2024, he said that he was amazed by the high professional standards reached by expatriate Sri Lankan in new emerging fields like Artificial Intelligence, Information Technology and digitalization. “You obtaining knowledge through the free education system and other facilities in Sri Lanka and you owe something to the Motherland. Hence, I urge you to use your professional abilities and the avenues available in your adopted country to help your Motherland. You can be development partners of Sri Lanka and advance your careers while helping the fellow citizens of your Motherland,” he said.

Prime Minister made the following comments at this event –

When we visit different capitals and cities, we only meet a few. But for Sri Lanka, it is a new challenge that we face to meet as much as possible the countrymen who could contribute to the progress of our country. We are all Sri Lankans. As I have met the most senior I have seen in China, I have heard of him when he lectured at the Sri Lanka China Society how they arrived in China almost half a century ago. I guess his whole life is a story to be recorded not only for China but for Sri Lanka and also for human history.

Because China today is the second largest economy in the world. Why I said for human history, 50 years ago the situation was not so. All the planners, all the researchers, all the economists never thought that the world will change. China has been able not only to change and advance the nation to a key giant in the world but also influence the world affairs. So it’s an important moment for President Ranil Wickremesinghe and our government to enhance our relationship in China.

I don’t want to take much time. I’m very proud as Prime Minister to meet you all. Especially when you get up and say I’m in research, I’m in business, I’m handling various... projects, it’s a challenge met by our countrymen, for which we owe you all much as we move along. Because Sri Lanka also needs to engage with the Chinese economy in many aspects, import export, research, or in the services, or in decision -making, as Professor mentioned, in economic management, academic work, these are the new areas that are opening up.

So we look forward for you all, my acting ambassador, would allow me, to say, you are all our ambassadors. The network has to move fast. As mentioned, various platforms are taking over. The challenge is that we should move fast for which the IT sector will play an important aspect. Sri Lanka has relaxed and continue to relax our regulations which obstruct international cooperation, investment, and even new areas of development which is only limited to the state.

Except for security areas, the rest are being relaxed today to move forward. So myself and the Deputy Minister and the Members of Parliament take this opportunity to invite you all to take the new areas of communication which is the way that we could move faster than before. How China moved faster than others is a lesson to be learnt. The second biggest population for a long time, though there are third biggest population today, Asia has a challenge to meet because this century is for Asia if we all contribute together as nations of Asia for the progress of mankind.

Maybe most of you all are well settled in China, that you are spending more years and more years. Research is important. All those that come a long way from Sri Lanka, from many places to the universities to study, you also have an obligation to pay back something to motherland. That is what we expect. But also pursue new areas of possible cooperation and to delve into new areas in China. China will continue to grow. We all agree on that. They’ll grow as a giant nation for Sri Lanka. We have a very special relationship – Colombo, port city development.

It’s a Chinese investment which can take us to the entire maritime and Gulf states after Singapore if we move on this project as we have planned now. Secondly, Hambantota, the second port that was developed. There were so many arguments, counter -arguments about Hambantota. But the word itself is a port that had come centuries long away, as a port. Hamantota will also be a key port in the next decades to come as we progress with the Chinese support and other countries’ assistance in order to make Hamanthota a successor. If I may deviate a little, Colombo port did exist for 500 years. Please, remind ourselves, 500 years, but it has developed as a key port in the last 50 to 60 years. So, a port takes a long time with maritime and other new areas of development, a port to develop.

So we have taken the challenge, established Hambantota and Colombo port city development for which China has given a very strong support unprecedented in recent time, for which we should all work in the state, the private sector, and all others, even the foreign investment to play together an important role in the international trade as well as Sri Lanka’s development.

As you all have not asked any question, I don’t want to ask. I asked my deputy minister, what should we do? So they’re not asking any questions. So my answer would be, go ahead and have more strong shouldering responsibilities in the areas that you are working today, whether you are in universities or research programs or in the business circles.

We wish all of you all success. And we hope, as a government, that the programs that we have started anew can bring faster results with our citizens who are right across the world. In tourism, today China plays an important role. How? When there is a surplus income, people like to travel. People like relax are all over the world. Chinese tourists are today traveling around the world across many countries, Sri Lanka, must be an important place for the Chinese tourists to come.

It is for you, who are in China, with our officials, in university, as a younger generation. Speak of your country, invite all, percentage would participate. So the investors the businessmen, would look forward to the hub that is developing in Sri Lanka, this new development that’s taking place for business circles. Once again, I invite all of you all to this great challenge that we have to carry forward. It is a challenge for our motherland. We have to advance, we have to progress in new areas that we have not yet embarked on.

That is the way we would be able to open, most of you all would agree, the new doors where investment can come and progress. I invite all of y ’all for this important challenge that The whole country is today embarked on to join us. And I wish you all success in the work that you all have engaged while being in China

Large gathering of top Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and professionals who have established lucrative businesses, and top positions in their respective fields attended the meeting together with Sri Lankan students in China at this function. Several Chinese ministers, senior office-bearers of Chinese Communist Party and heads of top corporations including Sinopec, Huawei and Chairmen of Exim Bank, Agriculture Bank, China Harbour, CIDCA and NDRC were present at this event and State Ministers Shehan Semasinghe, Piyal Nishantha, Ashok Priyantha, MP Yadamini Gunawarena and Secretary to the Prime Minister Anuara Dissanayake also interacted with the Chinese leaders and the Sri Lankan community.

Prime Minister’s Media