The continuation of protectionism by America, the largest economy body in the world, will only result in further contraction of the world economy and aggravation of unemployment, poverty and deprivation, said Luxman Siriwardena, president of the Sri Lanka-based Pathfinder Foundation.
In a recent interview with People’s Daily Online, Siriwardena said that the unilateralism and protectionism currently being championed by the American administration goes against the values the West has promoted since the end of World War II.
“When I was undertaking graduate studies at an American university in the 1980s, it would have been totally unacceptable for any of the economic professors to believe that the protectionism in trade and investment would enhance the welfare of the international community,” he recalled, sharing that since the establishment of formal China-Sri Lankan diplomatic relations, China has been the most reliable, all-weather friend of Sri Lanka.
In recent years, Sri Lanka has taken an active role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which, he stressed, is the most logical development strategy for Sri Lanka.
The successful completion of the three major development projects in Sri Lanka under the BRI, namely Colombo Port City Project, Hambantota International Port and proposed Hambantota Industrial Zone, will have a transformative impact on the Sri Lankan economy.
In the post-pandemic era, the BRI is “a functional machinery which can substantially contribute to the recovery of the global economy,” he noted, voicing hope that the initiative will have more inclusive and comprehensive programs encompassing a larger amount of countries.
While this is a decisive year for China to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and to end extreme poverty, according to Siriwardena, China’s development has been “unprecedented” in the history of the entire world.
“The process has been inclusive in the sense that China has uplifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty while achieving advancement in science, technology and culture,” he said, adding that China has addressed the social, economic and environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the recent past, citing the pollution management in the city of Beijing as an example.
Looking ahead, Siriwardena said the two countries will enhance their cooperation in various fields, such as COVID-19 pandemic control and prevention, investment in manufacturing, logistics and services, infrastructure as well as economic digitalization, and people-to-people exchanges.
Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, Siriwardena pointed out that both China and Sri Lanka have managed to control the virus with relatively minimal loss of life, and praised China’s commitment to distribute the vaccine to the rest of the world, which will contribute to the vision of building a community of health for all in the near future.