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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 77

Seminar on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road –A Fruitful Opening.

Colombo, 16 November, (

The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS) organized a seminar on the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” on Friday the 7th of November 2014 at its Auditorium.

The seminar provided a space for engagement of scholars, diplomats, economists and linguists and shares their views on the Maritime Silk Road. This is the first time that this nature of seminar was organized in Sri Lanka on 21st Century Maritime silk road , a popular topic of the world.

Proceedings opened to the Inaugural Plenary consisting of Mr. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Executive Director, LKIIRSS, Governor Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal and the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Sri Lanka Wu Jianghao who stressed the five links to MSR quoting the President Rajapaksa’s emphasis on “strategic co-operative partnership” while supporting Sri Lankan development while safeguarding its independence and “the Sri Lankan people’s choice to the path of development”.

Mr. Abeyagoonasekera went on to quote Xi Jing Ping from a statement on the day before the seminar (6th Nov) stating “China will accelerate the construction of the Silk Road economic belt and strengthen co-operation with countries involved”.

The topics addressed over this panel consisted of the historic existence of a Maritime Silk Route and the opportune position both Sri Lanka and China stand in geographically to revive a past route and making Sri Lanka as described by Governor Cabraal an economic, cultural and educational hub along the Maritime Silk Road as a plan of “benefit to many countries”.

The opening session ‘MSR : The past, present and future’ moderated by Ms. Ramla Wahab, Research Associate, LKIIRSS, discussed the historic “Silk Route” evaluating the opportunities and implications of its revival, taking lessons from both its diplomatic and trading histories. Dr. Sandagomi Coperahewa, Senior Lecturer, University of Colombo, related how the trade route was further a medium for the interaction of ideas and intercultural dialogue.

Dr. Sarala Fernando, Former Director General, Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute, explained how the historic route flourished in an environment of peaceful co-existence and mutual benefit.

Mr. T.K. Premadasa, Ex- Head of Corporate Affairs and Communication of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, shed light on an economic perspective to the Maritime Silk Road through an analysis of Sino-Sri Lankan trade statistics pointing to how a re-launch of the ancient Road will rebuild and strengthen Chinese relations with the rest of the countries in South-Asia resulting in mutual economic benefits. Regional expert Dr. Sithara Fernando, Senior Lecturer, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, provided an overview of the Chinese Maritime relations with South Asia.

The second session, ‘Development through Co-operation: an International Relations Perspective’ was moderated by Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Nihal Rodrigo.

Mr. Rodrigo promoted the economic benefits of cooperation by referring to previous initiatives, such as the Nanning China-ASEAN Expo but also warned of the potential controversies involved in building connectivity across the Indian Ocean Region.

Further on the panel, Dr. Song Junying, visiting scholar from the China Institute of International Studies explored themes of bilateral co-operation in the spheres of politics, economics, security and socio-cultural avenues.

While Dr SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda evaluated the question of the Silk Route providing a catalyst to development and transformation. Mr. Hasalaka Arampola emphasized the need to ensure that the Maritime Silk Road policy harnesses opportunities to realistically create a win-win situation to all parties concerned through the Indian Ocean Region and beyond.

Discussed over the session titled ‘MSR: Global and Regional perspectives’, moderated by Dr. Ranee Jayamaha, Chairperson, HNB, were a variety of topics ranging from entrepreneurship to current affairs.

Prof. H. D. Karunaratne, Professor and Head of the Faculty of Management and Finance , University of Colombo, explained the role of entrepreneurs in establishing and maintaining the link between macro and micro performances of a country, as presently in Sri Lanka “Only 3% labour force is represented by business owners”

Ms. Shen Yamei, visiting scholar and Associate Research Fellow from the China Institute of International Studies, discussed the principal focus of the initiative and the need to facilitate a framework in order to strengthen “maritime economy, environment, technical and scientific cooperation”

. On a different note, Prof. Indra de Soysa, Professor, University of Trondheim, addressed the many controversies that have arisen with regard to the growth of China.

The conference proceedings will be complied in a Conference Report to be published by the Kadirgamar Institute, including research papers of above mentioned speakers including Emeritus Prof. Vini Vitharana and Dr. Mallika Joseph, Executive Director RCSS, Colombo.

The seminar on the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” served as a platform for experts to share their experience and research on the topic on a platform engaging in constructive debate and discussion.

- Asian Tribune -

Seminar on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road –A  Fruitful Opening.
Seminar on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road –A  Fruitful Opening.
Seminar on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road –A  Fruitful Opening.
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