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Ambassador Wang Ke's Speech at the "Access China" Seminar
(February 19th, 2015)

Dr. DeLisle Worrell, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados,

Ms. Tonika Sealy, Director of the Fish & Dragon Festival,

Teachers and Students,

A very good morning to you all!

Welcome to today’s Education Seminar themed “Access China”. This Seminar will officially start the first Fish and Dragon Festival in Barbados. It is also a start of series of activities in celebration of the Chinese New Year and China-Barbados Friendship. Today is also the first day of the Chinese New Year, I, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Barbados, would like to wish everybody an auspicious Year of the Ram and all the best in the new year.

Looking at today’s theme “Access China”, one might ask, as Barbados and China are separated by vast oceans, and there are huge differences of population, area, language and culture, do we still need to make efforts to understand and cooperate with China? I think the answer is YES.

First, China-Barbados relationship has a long history and solid political foundation. Barbados is one of the first Caribbean countries to establish diplomatic relations with China and we maintained our friendship all through 38 years of diplomatic relations. Over the years, China has provided sizable assistance to Barbados. Some well known landmarks such as the Gymnasium, Sandiford Centre and Cheapside Market are built under Chinese assistance, and they became important symbols of China-Barbados friendship. China is also the only country which is providing preferential loans to Caribbean Countries including Barbados for large-scale projects, rather than withholding assistance using so-called “graduation” criterion. In 2011, the opening of the Barbadian Embassy in China, which is also the first Barbadian Embassy in Asia, further highlights the importance attached by the Barbadian side to our bilateral relations.

Second, China's rapid economic development has brought new impetus to bilateral cooperation. Since the implementation of reform and opening up policy some 30 years ago, China’s economy has grown by leaps and bounds to become the world's second largest economy and contributes nearly 25 percent to the world economic growth. China’s economy is estimated to maintain medium to high growth in the coming years. As Chinese companies and financial institutions actively explore the international market, they are now more and more interested in the cooperation with Barbados and other Caribbean countries. China's development and its advantages in areas of finance, technology and product competitiveness will provide Barbados and other Caribbean countries with more market opportunities, investment opportunities, cooperation opportunities and growth opportunities.

Third, people to people exchange is the source of strength in China-Barbados cooperation. Sate-to-state relations thrive when there is friendship between the peoples. The peoples of our two countries have long held friendly feelings towards each other and eager to enhance mutual understanding so as to enrich the areas of bilateral cooperation. In recent years, we witnessed frequent exchanges of cultural visits between our two countries: Chinese military band, Henan Martial Arts and Acrobatic Troupe and Nanjing National Orchestra Band have all paid visits to Barbados and indeed caused a sensation; last year, Barbados cultural ambassador Gabby and other Barbadian artists thrilled the crowds in Beijing during the Latin-American and the Caribbean Festival, kindling Chinese people's interest in Barbados and the Caribbean culture. In the field of education, till now, there are 52 Barbadian students who went to China to study under the Chinese Government Scholarship program, and the teaching of Chinese Language is more and more popular in the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus with continuing increase of enrollment. The Confucius Institute of the Cave Hill Campus will be set up this year and it will provide a new platform for the teaching of Chinese language and the experiencing of Chinese culture. It is expected that with the increase in bilateral exchanges and understanding, there will be more Barbadian friends who choose China for study and business; likewise, many Chinese tourists who yearn for the beautiful natural scenery of the Caribbean will take advantage of the opening of direct flight between Beijing and Havana in September to come to the Caribbean. I just hope that Barbados can seize this opportunity.

Thus, there is huge potential in China-Barbados cooperation as well as in bilateral people to people exchange. I would also like to thank the invited speakers for today’s Seminar. Some of them have long studied and worked in China, some are actively promoting China-Barbados economic and trade cooperation, and some are committed to the promotion of Chinese culture. Their Chinese experience and practice will certainly help everybody here to gain a better understanding of and access into China. I welcome more Barbadian people, especially young students like many of you here, to join us in the promotion of China-Barbados friendship. You can realize your personal dream, at the same time contributing to China-Barbados relations and the friendship between our two peoples.

Finally, I wish the Educational Seminar and Barbados Fish and Dragon Festival a great success! I wish China-Barbados relationship a brighter future!

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