‘Silk Road Super Ambassador’ award for Dy. Ambassador Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne
2019-03-14
 



China conferred a special award on Sri Lanka’s Deputy Ambassador to China, Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne, the Deputy Ambassador for Sri Lanka in Beijing and envoys of four other countries in honour of her outstanding contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative.

The title conferred is ‘Silk Road Super Ambassador’ and the presentation ceremony was held on 24 January 2019. The former Prime Minister of Italy, Massimo D’Alema also received an award for his contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative.
 
Diplomats were shortlisted for this prestigious award on public nomination and the opportunity was given to the public to vote for them via an electronic app. Following selection via public vote, the Evaluation Committee selected the final five award recipients.
 
The Evaluation Committee comprised the Silk Road Cities Alliance, China Friendship Foundation for Peace and Development, Silk Road Cities Institute and the Beijing Belt and Road Community and the award was presented in recognition of the outstanding contribution individual diplomats rendered to the Belt and Road Initiative.
 
Apart from Sri Lanka’s Deputy Ambassador in Beijing, the other recipients of the award were Pakistan – Ambassador Masood Khalid, Malta – Ambassador John Aquilina, Maldives – Ambassador Mohamed Faizal, Bosnia Herzegovina – Ambassador Anton Rill.
 
The Evaluation Committee, in the souvenir printed for the occasion, listed the following achievements with regard to the justification for presenting this prestigious award to Karunaratne: “Mrs. Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne currently serves as the Deputy Ambassador at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in China, taking part in over 25 Belt and Road programs in China under Sri Lanka China bilateral relations. Mrs. Karunaratne is a bilingual professional and a career diplomat with 23 years of service of bilateral and multilateral work.”
 
Her achievements were recorded as follows:
 
Karunaratne has been a main speaker at some of the Belt and Road programs during 2018. She also co-authored an academic paper titled ‘Heuristics of the Historic Cultural Communication to the Development of Tourism between China and Sri Lanka,’ which was published in the International Tourism Leaders’ Summit Journal of the University of Colombo in October 2018.

Karunaratne has been a Senior Vice President of the Commonwealth Society of Beijing since 2016 and co-initiated a charity fund donation of RMB 100,000 towards adult female education in the Gansu Province under the administration of the All China Women’s Federation.
 
Karunaratne has also initiated cultural exchanges between Sri Lanka and China and submitted a Sri Lankan film to the Taizhou, Zhejiang Province Asian Film Festival, which won the ‘Best International Film’ award.
 
She also brought a Sri Lankan youth high school delegation from Uva Province to take part in ‘Silk Road Young Dreams’ and the students won second and a third placement in the open international competition.

Upon receiving the award, Karunaratne stated: “I have been a diplomat for 23 years and a public servant for 33 years. For our kind of work, this kind of an evaluation is rare and this is the first time I am receiving an award for my work as a diplomatic officer. I am very happy to receive this from the People’s Republic of China. In fact, receiving this award is a great milestone in my career. I am humbled that all of you have recognised not only my contribution but also Sri Lanka’s contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative.”
 
She said to Daily FT that it was such an honour as among all the countries which received this award only the National Anthem of Sri Lanka was played after the citation was read prior to the award being given.
 
Karunaratne was born in Badulla, had her primary school education at Museaus College Colombo, Vishakha Girl’s High School Badulla, and was an Exchange student at El Paso High School, in Illinois, USA. She is a graduate of the University of Peradeniya, and has also earned two Post Graduate Degrees. She is currently reading towards a PhD on China-Sri Lanka Tourism at the University of Colombo.


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