PROFILE OF THE SRI LANKA – CHINA FRIENDSHIP ASSOCIATION
The Sri Lanka – China Friendship Association (SLCFA) is the pioneer People to People diplomatic organization formed in Sri Lanka ( then Ceylon) in order to promote friendship with the People’s Republic of China. The SLCFA was originally organized as the “Ceylon – China Friendship Union” on Thursday the 21st September 1950 by the Ceylon Communist Party (CCP), exactly on the first Anniversary day of founding of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conferance with Mao Zedong as its first Chairman, as the new state power united front organization, ten days prior to the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China. The first President of the Ceylon – China Union, was Madam Kusuma Gunawardena, Member of Parliament representing the VLLSP, a Party that was in an alliance with the CCP, the Founder Organiser was Madam Theja Gunawardena, a social worker, prominant writer, journalist eminent scholar, who was respected for her vast knowledge on international relationships, and also a close collaborator of the International Communist Movement. The Secretary elected was Dr. G.V.S. De Silva, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CCP., lecturer of Economics at the University of Ceylon.
As the Ceylon – China Friendship Union. was not functionng up to its expectations, an overhaul reorganization was done on Monday the 22nd September 1952 as the Ceylon – China Friendship Association, at the former Mayor of Colombo Municipality, late Dr. Kumaran Rathnam’s residence, under the inspiring leadership of Madam Theja Gunawardana, with former Presixdent Madam Kusuma Gunawardena, M.P. as a Vice President..and Mr. Basil de Silva as the Secretary.
In October 1952, the Ceylon – China Friendship Association established fraternal relationship with then it’s counterpart in China, the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) with a message of greetings from late Mr. Zhang Xiruo, the President of the CPIFA, sent through the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, India.
After the proclamation of the Republic of Sri Lanka in 1972, the Association was renamed as the Sri Lanka – China Friendship Association ( SLCFA ) at the 20th Annual General Meeting held on the 27th January 1973.
From its inception the Sri Lanka – China Friendship Association regarded the national inspirations for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and social development of peoples of Sri Lanka and China as the basis for bilateral people to people friendship. The SLCFA considers the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in Foreign Relationships accepted by both countries as the foundation of friendship between Sri Lanka and China.
Precedence Established : “Top 10 Partner of China.”
For the very first time after establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and China in 1957, on the 17th January 2014, the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka awarded 10 organisations as the “Top 10 Partners of China” and the Sri Lanka-China Friendship Association (SLCFA) was given the No. 02 Award, runners up only to the “SWRD Bandaranaike National Memorial Foundation”, a State Institution Chaired by the Prime Minister. The decision of the Chinese Embassy to uphold the SLCFA as No.2 “Top 10 Partner of China” is a precedent established by a diplomatic proclamation in the presence of the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The SLCFA was the only entity engaged in People to People friendship activities to be hailed up to this position and was thus duly recognized by the People’s Republic of China as the prestigious pioneer and the prominent partner in the field of friendship promotion activities in Sri Lanka.
SLCFA consists of volunteers who represent a cross section of Sri Lankan society with a deep fraternal feeling towards China. The membership of the SLCFA consists of Life Members and Ordinary Members who elect the National Executive Committee (NEC) at an Annual or a Special General Meetings of the Association, constitutionally held from time to time. The NEC, which consists of 23 members, is the apex body which manages the affairs of SLCFA. During the period between two consecutive meetings of the National Executive Committee (NEC), the President, General Secretary and Treasurer are constitutionally empowered to function as the Standing Committee of the NEC.
The President of the SLCFA is Mr.Ananda Goonatilleke (B.A. Ceylon), Attorney-at-Law, journalist, writer, poet and a political activist who has been a full time Member cum Assistant Editor of Party organ of Ceylon Communist Party ( China Wing) in the mid 1960s. He has served the SLCFA as a Member of the NEC from 1968 to 1974, Organizing Secretary from 1974 to 1978, General Secretary from 1978 to 1985, a Vice President from 1985 to 1995 and the President since 1995. He also has served at topmost management positions of seven State Enterprises of Sri Lanka. The General Secretary is Mr. Rathindra Kuruwita, who is a senior journalist by profession.
Five Vice Presidents are: Mr. Chandrasiri Mayadunne, who has served the SLCFA since 1976 as an Assistant Secretary, the Treasurer and a Vice President, Mr. Daya Lankapura, a senior journalist, Mr. Premadara Dissanayake, Attorney-at-Law, Member of the Political Bureau of Communist Party of Sri Lanka, Mr. Aruna Goonatilleke, Business Executive who has served as a Member of the NEC from 1998 and Mr. Thilak Botheju, a well known publisher who has served as a Member of the NEC since 2012. The Treasurer is Mr.Gamini Rajanayake, professional Accountant, Corporate Director, a prominent personality of Electronic Media and cinema field. He has served the SLCFA as a Member of the NEC and a Vice President since 2012 before being elected as Treasurer in 2013.
SLCFA maintains very cordial relationships with, Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries(CPAFFC), the Cultural Exchanges Department of the CPAFFC, Chinese Association for International Understanding(CAFIU) ,Buddhist Association of China (CBA), Beijing NGO Association for International Exchanges, People’s Associations for Friendship with Foreign Countries of Yunnan, Jiangxi and Henan Provinces, Beijing and Shanghai, Zhongshan and Shenyang Municipalities.
After the diplomatic relationship was established in 1957, the SLCFA has continuously and constantly kept close cordial relations with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sri Lanka.
The SLCFA has organized Seminars, Exhibitions of Photos, Paintings and Artifacts, yearly Chinese National Day Commemoration Meetings, book donation campaigns and discussions to promote trade, commercial activities, political affairs, cultural cooperation and Buddhist activities between Sri Lanka and China. SLCFA was in the forefront of educating the public of Sri Lanka with regard to One China Policy and on China’s stand with regard to important international issues. SLCFA also took great effect to promote China’s principles on the Korean war, Tibet issue, Taiwan issue, Minority Nationalities of China, China-India border dispute, Non-aligned Movement, United Nations, Law of the Sea, New International Economic Order and other global issues.
In 2015 the SLCFA was the first China friendly organization of Sri Lanka to launch an island wide Speech Contest among Ordinary Level, Advance Level and University Level students in Sinhala,Tamil and English languages in the presence of the Speaker of Sri Lanka Parliament and a Vice Chairman of the National People’s Congress of China, on the subject of the Maritime Silk Road.
The SLCFA has organized 04 Photo Exhibitions on the “60th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and China” in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy at Monaragala, Kurunegala, Bandarawela and Horana “Sripalee Campus” of the University of Colombo, in 2017 and 2018.
Also in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy the SLCFA from 2018 has started to launch various assistance to promote poor schools in 05 destitute districts of Sri Lanka including Monaragala, Hambantota, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura.
The SLCFA is actively involved in promotion of Culture, Investments, Trade, Tourism and Sports between Sri Lanka and China. At the same time had assisted numerous Chinese business entities to educate themselves about local matters. SLCFA has organized several Colombo – Zhongshan Trade Promotions Forums in Sri Lanka from 2013 with collaboration of Zhongshan People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the Zhongshan Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Bureau.
SLCFA has received numerous delegations from China and on invitation of Chinese counterparts has sent friendship delegations to China to promote bi-lateral activities.
Sri Lanka is in the forefront of developing its economy and presently China is the major partner in economic development of Sri Lanka. FDI in Sri Lanka has been granted very attractive tax benefits and SLCFA could cooperate in promoting economic cooperation, investment, trade and tourism promotions between Sri Lanka and China on a Win – Win basis.