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“Chinese Ambassador Boosts Ties in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, Pledges Support for Seafood Exports

The Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Qi Zhenhong, made a significant visit to the country’s Northern province, bordering the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, extending invitations for locals to export seafood to China. In a diplomatic move, Beijing assured that it would not export any fisheries products to the province.

China’s involvement in the Northern province has raised concerns in India, leading to the cancellation of three renewable energy projects granted to Beijing. Despite this, China has been actively supporting sea cucumber farming for Jaffna fishermen, who face challenges from bottom trawling and encroachment by Indian fishermen.

During his second visit to the North, Ambassador Qi Zhenhong donated food packs, fishing gear, and houses to the Northern people, primarily ethnic minority Tamils with cultural ties to South India. Addressing a public gathering in the former war zone of Jaffa district, he expressed China’s unwavering support for the region, promising continued assistance.

China has initiated the export of sea cucumber from Jaffna fishermen, with the Ambassador committing to purchasing more from Northern fishermen in the future. Qi Zhenhong emphasized that there would be no Chinese fish exports to Sri Lanka, specifically to the Northern province. He welcomed Sri Lankan competitive product exports to China, citing the vast Chinese market.

Highlighting China’s economic strength, Ambassador Qi Zhenhong encouraged Chinese investors and entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in the Northern province. His visit coincided with Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s official trip to Jaffna, initially met with some hesitations in the region.

However, the Ambassador’s gesture of providing essential goods was well-received by the people of Jaffna, who are facing challenging conditions. This outreach, coupled with promises of support for seafood exports, may contribute to favorable perceptions of China in the Northern province.

The Chinese Embassy in Colombo confirmed three donation ceremonies, distributing dry rations and announcing a substantial project to aid the needy in the Northern Province. Qi Zhenhong’s visit signals a nuanced diplomatic strategy, combining economic collaboration with humanitarian efforts to strengthen China’s ties in the region.”

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