From left: Yang Jiemian -Chairman of Academic Affairs Council of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies- Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe - President of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman of the Pathfinder Foundation
The Second Symposium on the Maritime Silk Road and China-Sri Lanka Relations was held in Shanghai, China from 11th-13 July. The Chinese Embassy in Colombo made the logistical arrangements in support of the symposium, jointly organized by the Shanghai Institutes for International Relations (SIIS) and the Pathfinder Foundation (PF). The symposium consisted of two segments, an academic conference and a business roundtable, thereby providing an overview of the political and economy landscape and prospects for business collaboration available to both sides. Sujeewa Senasinghe, State Minister of International Trade participated in the three day Track II symposium, delivering a keynote address, explaining the policies of the new government and responding to questions posed by Chinese scholars and representatives of leading Chinese business conglomerates, who are either already present in Sri Lanka or planning to make large scale investments in the island. In addition to the Pathfinder Foundation represented by Bernard Goonetilleke, Prof.
Sisira Pinnawala, and Ameera Arooz; several other think tanks and institutions took part in the academic exchange. They included Indian Ocean Maritime Affairs Cooperation (Dr, Hiran Jayewardene), LIRNEasia (Professor Rohan Samarajiva), Institute of Policy Studies (Dr. Saman Kelegama), Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (Pamela Deen), and Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations (Ravindra Deyshappriya). Several media personalities also took part in the symposium.
They included Waruna Karunathileka Chairman, School of Journalism, as well as Shenali Waduge, and Dharshan Weerasekera. The Symposium commenced its work by inaugurating the China-Sri Lanka Cooperation Studies Center by Prof. Chen Dongxiao, President of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman of the Pathfinder Foundation. The newly established Center will function as the counterpart of the China-Sri Lanka Cooperation Studies Center, functioning under the Pathfinder Foundation, inaugurated by the Chinese Ambassador in Sri Lanka in October last year.
The first part of the symposium covered several subjects: Overviewing of Global and Regional Situation, China-Sri Lanka Bilateral Cooperation: Opportunities and Challenges, The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Sri Lankan Development, Government-Market Relations. This part of the symposium was concluded with a brain storming session on ‘Visions of China-Sri Lanka Cooperation and Policy Suggestions’.
A Business Roundtable involving private sector representatives of both countries followed the academic discussions. The Chinese companies that expressed their skepticism over the investment prospects in Sri Lanka in November last year during the first symposium, appeared to be more positive of the improving investment climate in Sri Lanka following the visit of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to China in April this year.
Among the participating companies from China were Beijing International Trust, Chongqing Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, China Harbour Engineering, Chinese Rayong Industrial Park, Pacific Rim Zhengzhou Yutong and SINOMA