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“As much as we need foreign currency, we also need more friendship with Chinese people”

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“As much as we need foreign currency, we also need more friendship with Chinese people”

Sri Lanka is set to receive its first group of post-pandemic Chinese tourists after becoming one of the first 20 countries to resume the organization of outbound group tourists from China since COVID-19.
Their flight will depart from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport on March 3.

“We are expecting Chinese tourists to come back soon, but their particular interest has been to countries closer to China,” Anura Fernando, the consul general of Sri Lanka in Shanghai, said during an interview with China Daily about the country’s eagerness to receive more tourists from China.

As soon as the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced the decision to allow travel agencies to resume booking groups to travel to 20 countries and regions on Feb 6, the Sri Lanka consul general began to work closely with travel agencies and other partners to reopen direct flights between Shanghai and Colombo, its capital city.

With its tropical climate, as well as rich and diverse cultural heritage, Sri Lanka has been a popular destination for holidaymakers from around the world. In 2018, the country received a record number of 280,000 tourists from China.

“Since most Chinese haven’t traveled out of the country for three years, they are looking at closer destinations,” he says, adding “but I think Sri Lanka should be attractive to most Chinese tourists”.

He notes that the rich heritage of Buddhist culture, tea plantations, gem stones, as well as its natural beauty and water activities, are all appealing for Chinese tourists. Now that the pandemic is over, and Sri Lanka has emerged from the economic crisis, Fernando hopes that “this year tourists’ numbers will increase to about 1 million”.

China is the biggest trading partner of Sri Lanka and the largest source of foreign investments. With the signing of a free trade agreement expected to be made this year, Fernando believes the trade volume will increase between the two countries.

One of the first countries involved in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Sri Lanka has witnessed major projects constructed by China, such as the Port City in Colombo that kicked off in 2014. The construction process was slowed down because of the pandemic, and now that the Chinese workers are returning, he says the construction has restarted, with a new international financial center expected to be completed in the coming two years when it will start functioning.

Sri Lanka has a large Chinese community so “Chinese tourists are very much at home”, with Chinese restaurants and Chinese-speaking tour guides.

“We have a lot of cultural bonding,” Fernando says. “As much as we need the foreign currency, we also need more friendship with the Chinese people”.

From the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in 1973, to the Lotus Tower unveiled in 2019, China has helped construct monumental structures in Sri Lanka, which are evidence of the close ties between the two countries. This year marks the 20th anniversary of “sister cities” ties between Shanghai and Colombo, and the consul general hopes more cultural, tourism and business communication could enhance the friendship between Chinese and Sri Lankan people.

(China Daily)

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Constable who slapped Kangana Ranaut, suspended & arrested

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The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) constable who allegedly slapped newly-elected Mandi MP and actor Kangana Ranaut at the Chandigarh airport for “disrespecting farmers” has been arrested, sources said on Friday.

A police case was filed against the accused constable, Kulwinder Kaur, and she was also suspended after she allegedly slapped Ms Ranaut on Thursday. The actor was on the way to board a flight to Delhi when the incident happened.

The paramilitary security personnel said she was triggered by an old statement from Ms Ranaut.

She gave a statement… that farmers are sitting there for ₹ 100. Will she go and sit there? My mother was sitting there and protesting when she gave this statement…,” she said, referring to the farmers’ protest in 2020 against the three farm laws passed by the Centre.

During the height of a nationwide agitation, Ms Ranaut had remarked in a social media post that an elderly woman at a protest site was being paid ₹ 100 to sit there. After facing widespread backlash, the actor deleted the post.

In a video, recorded by onlookers at the airport, the Mandi MP can be seen escorted to the security checkpoint where the incident occurred. However, as she reaches the area, an argument breaks out and she is then escorted away. The video does not capture the alleged slap.

Hours after the incident, the actor took to X and shared a video message about what occurred at the airport.

“The incident happened at the security check-in. The woman guard waited for me to cross. She then came and hit me… started throwing expletives. I asked (her) why she hit me. She said, ‘I support farmers’. I am safe… but my concern is terrorism is rising in Punjab. How do we handle that?” she said in the video.

The actor faced online backlash in February 2021 after she responded to a post by singer Rihanna on the farmers’ protest. “Why aren’t we talking about this?”, the pop icon said while sharing a video of the farmers protesting.

Ms Ranaut hit out at the post by labelling the protestors as “terrorists”. “No one is talking about it because they are not farmers, they are terrorists who are trying to divide India, so that China can take over our vulnerable broken nation and make it a Chinese colony much like the USA… Sit down you fool, we are not selling our nation like you dummies,” she said.

However, she later deleted that post.

The farmers’ protest that began in 2020/21 made headlines in India and across the world. Ms Ranaut made several posts slamming the protests and raising questions over the legitimacy of the agitation, often hitting out at the protesters.

During her campaign, her convoy was blocked by agitators in Chandigarh over her comments.

(NDTV)

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“Ravi”, a cinematic self reflection of half a century (Pics)

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The “Ravi – Cinema Half-Century Self-Reflection” ceremony was held yesterday (June 05) at the Bandaranaike International Conference Hall in Colombo to honour veteran actor Ravindra Randeniya for his five decades of service to Sri Lankan cinema.

Randeniya, who began his career with the 1974 film ‘Taranga,’ has appeared in over 100 films and received numerous awards, including the Swarna Sankha O.C.I.C. Best Actor award and the Darshan Suri Award. 

Two biographies of Randeniya, written by Gamini Weragoda and Uditha Devapriya, were launched during the event.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who presided over the event, praised Randeniya’s contributions to cinema and recalled their political collaboration.

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Dr. Shelton Premarathne passes away

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Legendary Sri Lankan music composer Dr. Shelton Premarathne has passed away today (May 30) at the age of 94.

He had been living with his son in Sydney, Australia, at the time of his demise.

Dr Premaratne has contributed to Sinhala cinema, theatre and classical Sri Lankan music. 

He was the music composer and director in over 30 stage productions, including Henry Jayasena’s popular theatre production Hunuwataye Kathawa (The Caucasian Chalk Circle), and 21 Sinhala films including films such as Daskon, Romeo Juliet Kathawak and Hithaka Pipunu Mal.

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