Just as Sri Lanka was hit hard by a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine donated by China, another aid from the Chinese government, arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo on May 25.
Pavithra Wanniarachchi, health minister of Sri Lanka, Qi Zhenhong, Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka, and dozens of other high-level government officials received the doses at the airport and attended the handover ceremony.
Speaking to the media of both countries after signing the vaccine handover certificate on behalf of the Chinese government, Qi said that the COVID-19 pandemic is the public enemy of all humankind and solidarity is the most powerful weapon to fight it and vaccine sharing is the only way to win that battle.
Qi said that it was announced at the Global Health Summit that China has provided $2 billion anti-pandemic aid to other developing countries and has provided vaccine aid to more than 80 countries and exported vaccines to 43 countries. China will provide another $3 billion in international aid over the next three years to support global solidarity in the anti-pandemic fight and will do its best to provide more vaccines to other countries, while supporting Chinese enterprises in technology transfer to and production cooperation with developing countries.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a meeting with foreign ministers of five South Asian countries, including Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and reached an important consensus on working together to combat the pandemic and restore the countries' economies. China's continued vaccine assistance to Sri Lanka is a concrete manifestation of the above-mentioned spirit and commitments, said Qi.
Qi said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, China and Sri Lanka have supported and helped each other, and the friendship between the two countries has been further demonstrated. As a good neighbor, good friend and good partner through thick and thin, China will never be absent as long as it is beneficial to Sri Lanka, and will not hesitate to do any work that is beneficial to the Sri Lankan people.
On behalf of Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Wanniarachchi expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the Chinese government and people for providing a new batch of vaccine aid to Sri Lanka.
She said that the vaccines will be a strong boost to Sri Lanka's vaccination program and play an important role in current pandemic prevention and control. Sri Lanka looks forward to continuing to strengthen cooperation with China and to continue to receive valuable support from China in the procurement of vaccines, medical supplies and vaccine production.
Qi also gave a group interview to the media of the two countries after the event, introducing the joint efforts of China and Sri Lanka in the fight against the pandemic and Sri Lanka's economic recovery.
Early on the morning of May 26, President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa respectively posted messages on their personal accounts on social media, expressing their heartfelt gratitude to the Chinese government for continuing to send "charcoal in snow" to help Sri Lanka fight the pandemic's new wave.