June, 20, 2022
By Prof. Samitha Hettige
A person less than 18 is considered a child (UN convention on the rights of the child). Children of one small pre-school in China donated their day’s pocket money (approx 5 million SL rupees) to help SL children suffering in the crisis. Those Chinese children may be too small to know Lu Xun's "Hot Wind" which says “Actions speak louder than words” but their act should be shown to the USA which has so far provided approx. 50 billion USD to Ukraine to fight the war which is affecting child rights in Ukraine. Instead they could have used that to usher peace in Ukraine or increase support given to crisis hit countries such as SL. Emperor Asoka of India send his daughter “Sangamiththa” to guide SL ladies to be Buddhist nuns and SL Buddhist nuns guided Chinese ladies to be Buddhist nuns. Chinese Buddhists donated more than One million USD to SL Buddhist temples and the crisis affected lay persons living around those temples recently. The water purification plant donated to Kuchchaveli Pichchamal Viharaya providing drinking water to more than 1000 persons ensuring their right to life. The Communist party of China, Yunan provincial government, Chinese Red Cross and China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation also donated grants to SL grassroots to recover from the crisis. Parts of the grants were distributed among 10,400 low-income families by Ambassador Qi Zhenhong during his visit to the Eastern province with Madam Jin Qian recently (Chinese sources).
One good turn deserves another
Emperor Wu Liang once said that “one good turn deserves another”. During the Sirisena government, PM Ranil portrayed Colombo Port City in Switzerland to impress investors. SL could have further strengthened its image if things were handled more diplomatically with the International Chinese companies which; won the ADB bid for renewable energy project in the North, worked on central high way contracts, provided fertilizer on the request of SL. CBSL Governor stated that SL is facing the worst crisis since 1948 (ref. media). When SL was fighting famine then it was China which came to the rescue. They purchased SL’s natural rubber at a higher price than the market price and sold rice to SL at a price lower than the market price (ref RRP). SL citizens should know that during the RRP at times China had to buy rice at a higher price from Burma and sold it to SL at a much lower price. Though there is criticism on the currency swap, little is spoken about the proposal by Chinese organizations (which provided facilities to SL) to restructure the repayment process long before SL started talking such. SL can learn from Emperor Wu and work with China which is a strong member of world’s leading lending organizations to get a better response as China’s win-win policy has never allowed one nation’s disaster to be another nation’s delight. It is good that most Sri Lankans never see China’s silence as stupidity as Laozi said "he knows most who speaks least".
Evil extreme come peace!
Government actions and public reactions prove that the crisis in SL is serious. Some analysts indicate that the present crisis was delayed due to the support from friends during the past two years. China was one which provided more than 26 million doses of the COVID vaccine. Apart from the granted stock balance came at a comparatively low price. UN agencies agreeing to reimburse the cost prove that the transaction was clean. During the period more than 2.8 billion USD assistance came from China. At a time when many SL organizations slashed work force, approx 11,000 Sri Lankans got increased salaries working for Chinese organizations ensuring right a decent job. USD 76 million worth grants are still being received as medicine and rice. As China never colonized SL, it reminds the Chinese proverb that love is not possession but appreciation. Great Britain occupied SL for more than 150 years and its Premier had reportedly discussed climate change issues during a teleconference with SL leaders recently. It may be since SL couldn’t produce enough hydroelectricity to prevent power cuts or maybe UK didn’t have anything to offer to crisis hit Sri Lankans (many in EU are also suffering due to Ukraine conflict which they are fueling). Fortunately rains are back turning more turbines and feeding more rice fields. The crisis should be managed for it to end. SL should focus on increasing rice production with support from scientists including those who refused Chinese fertilizer but are awaiting Indian fertilizer. There may be unheard stories on that as well. While appreciating India’s support, SL must remember that India and China are old, strong and slow giant friends. India hasn’t criticized President Putin so far but none commented on where India stands. President Xi Jinping called President Putin recently and USA (founded in 1776AD) thinks China is standing on the wrong side of history. SL should stand on the rice fields with those who stood with it since 2500BC to increase rice production in addition to energy. To come out of the crisis and face millennium challenges SL may promote another QUAD between China, Russia, India and SL. Chinese children appreciate Chinese farmers (who’s harvest is donated to SL as well) with the below poem as they ensure the right to life (www).
Farmers weeding at noon, sweat down the field soon, who knows food on a tray, thanks to their toiling day!
(The writer is an Academic and a Broadcaster. Views expressed are personal and may not necessarily be the views of his affiliations.)