While discussing ways and means of achieving sustainable development invigorated by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China participated by 65 countries, the Pathfinder Foundation (PF) and Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) during a roundtable discussion focused on exploring new areas of cooperation with China and managing international and regional forces to promote the country’s economic interests.
The primary effort of the one-day roundtable held on September 4th was to discuss prospects and challenges of achieving sustainable development goals in the backdrop of BRI.
The roundtable was attended by a delegation comprising seven members representing the Shanghai based SIIS headed by Dr. Chen Dongxiao, President of the Chinese think-tank. Dr. Chen, who obtained his PhD from Fudan University, specializes in the studies of United Nations, China’s foreign policy and China – U.S. relations. He has led a number of research projects commissioned by China National Foundation of Social Sciences Studies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and the Taiwan Affairs Office of Sate Council.
During the follow-up discussions, the two institutions agreed to explore the possibility of jointly studying ways and means of tapping into the full potential of Sri Lanka’s unique location in the Indian Ocean: Equi-distance to the Far-Eastern, Middle-Eastern, European and African markets.
In addition, opportunities of further cooperation in education, religion and cultural fields were discussed. Both parties also agreed that exchange of media personalities in both English and vernacular languages should be given priority in their future programs. In order to realise these objectives, detailed proposals will be formulated for discussion and implementation by the SIIS and the PF.
The round-table was addressed by Rajendra Theagarajah (Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce), Prof. Sirimal Abeyratne (Dept. of Economics, University of Colombo) and Prof. O.G. Dayaratna-Banda (Dept. of Economics and Statistics and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Peradeniya). Among the participants were Lalith Weeratunga (former Secretary to President), Krishan Balendra (Director, John Keels Holdings Plc.) and Dr. Rohan Fernando (Director, Aitken Spence). The Pathfinder Foundation was represented by Bernard Goonetilleke, Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage, Luxman Siriwardena and Ameera Arooz.