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H.E. Ambassador Wang Ke's Remarks at Forum Themed "Barbados and the People's Republic of China-Celebrating Forty Years of Relations: Achievements, Opportunities and Strategies"

(May 26th, 2017, Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre)

Senator The Honourable Maxine McClean,

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados,

The Honourable Cabinet ministers,

Specially invited Panelists and Mr. Francois Jackman, Moderator of the Forum,

Representatives from Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Good morning.

I am very much delighted to join all of you today to celebrate the 40th anniversary and envision the future of China-Barbados diplomatic relations.

Let me begin by conveying my gratitude to H.E. Chelston Brathwaite, Barbados’ Ambassador to China on his initiative for this forum, to Senator The Honourable Maxine McClean and other Cabinet ministers as well as all the invited panelists for your attendance, to Permanent Secretary Mrs. Cecile Humphrey, Deputy Permanent Secretary Mr. David Bulbulia and other colleagues of the Foreign Ministry for your hard work and thoughtful arrangement, and to all the media friends including Ms Zhao Yijun, who came from China Central Television Latin America Office to cover this forum.

Now, I would like to share with you my perspectives on the achievements, some challenges and future direction of China-Barbados relations.

Barbados remains one of the very first Caribbean countries that established diplomatic ties with China, and China has always seen Barbados as a critical partner in the region and maintained friendly relations with each and every Barbadian government since 1977.

For 40 years, China-Barbados relations have enjoyed healthy and steady development, particularly with many breakthroughs and strides achieved in recent years, making our fraternal relations in the front rank of China-Caribbean relations.

Here, I will only highlight some of the major and encouraging development.

In political area, we always treat each other with equality, sincerity and fraternity, and show respect to the other’s core interests and concerns. China highly appreciates that Barbadian Government keeps its commitment by unswervingly adhering to One China Policy. Also, consultation and coordination in international and regional issues of shared interests remain effective.

High-level exchanges have been frequent. Since 1977, five out of seven Barbados Prime Ministers paid official visits to China. In June 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a fruitful meeting with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in Port of Spain, which propelled China-Barbados relations and cooperation into golden era.

Institutional building reflects the maturity of state-to-state relations. China and Barbados signed agreements on the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investments and Prevention of Double Taxation, treaties on Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters and Extradition. It was two months ago that the Agreement on Mutual Visa Exemption for Ordinary Passport Holders was signed and will come into effect on June 1st.

In practical cooperation, financed by China EXIM Bank, the Rehabilitation of Sam Lord’s Castle Hotel officially commenced in this April, hallmarking China the only provider of large concessional loan to Barbados’ tourism infrastructure project.

China offered Barbados 22 grants without attaching any political strings to assist many projects, among which, Garfield Sobers Gymnasium was built and the Cheapside market renovated. Very recently, China funded the rehabilitation and solar power for the Gymnasium. The first Chinese Medical Team started two-year clinic service at QEH. The largest Chinese donation of teaching material valued over 10 million BBD was handed over to Barbados. China also provided 16 million BBD, which is part of the grant to fund the Barbados Hope Agriculture Training Institute and U.W.I. Cave Hill Food Security and Entrepreneurship Centre.

In people-to-people exchanges, education played a major role. Chinese government scholarships were offered to more than seventy Barbadian students to study in China. Confucius Institute at U.W.I. Cave Hill Campus has done sterling work in teaching Chinese and showcasing Chinese culture. But not only so, it performed an incubator function closely linking U.W.I. Cave Hill with Chinese universities and bringing along the setup of U.W.I.-China Institute of Information Technology, Cave Hill Joint Research Centre of Chinese-Caribbean legal studies and the first International Law Moot Competition between China University of Political Science and Law and U.W.I. Cave Hill here in Barbados.

Culture exchanges thrived. Chinese art troupes were always a great hit in Barbados, and Barbadian artists who showcased Bajan and Caribbean style performance in China greatly impressed local audience. The Fish and Dragon Festival was held for three consecutive years in Church Village Green attracting more and more Barbadian people experiencing the tradition and culture of Chinese New Year.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Looking back at 40 years, China-Barbados relations benefited from the following:

First of all, China and Barbados trust each other as loyal friends and partners of mutually beneficial cooperation, and both have strong willingness to further develop this relationship.

Secondly, China-Caribbean relations develop rapidly. The two sides remain committed in building a partnership of comprehensive cooperation, which is vividly reflected in China-Barbados relations.

Thirdly, the common ground of the national strategies bind our two countries together. Both China and Barbados are making tremendous efforts to achieve sustainable development and improve their peoples’ well-being. China pursues the foreign policy of peaceful development, win-win cooperation, friendship rather than alliance, while Barbados upholds the principle of “Friends of all, satellite of none”, for which, the two countries highly match in theory and methodology.

While we loud the progress in the past 40 years, we must stay clear-minded of the challenges we are facing and bottlenecks we have to address in our bilateral relations.

Firstly, our bilateral cooperation still lacks breadth and depth. We need to work harder to explore new converging points.

Secondly, because of the long distance and language barrier, China-Barbados mutual understanding is far from adequate. We need to know each other more and better.

Thirdly, our differences in culture and working style sometimes make the cost of communication and coordination fairly high. Efficiency and sense of urgency are required in proceeding the bilateral projects.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

As Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “At forty, I was free of doubts”, meaning that when entering the forties, a mature person should no longer be troubled by perplexities and would have accomplished a lot. It is the same for China-Barbados relations.

Looking into the next 40 years, I suggest that both sides should make due efforts in the following:

We should maintain high-level visits, as well as exchanges between our governmental agencies, legislation bodies and political parties, while dialogue mechanism between relevant agencies should be considered so as to enhance policy coordination and promote cooperation in key sectors. Meanwhile, the sound communication and coordination in multilateral issues of shared interests including climate change, sustainable development and the UN Security Council reform should also continue.

We should efficiently implement the current cooperation projects and with a more open and farsighted mind, identify more areas making the win-win cooperation in infrastructure, tourism, renewable energy and modern agriculture the new poles of growth in our economic relations.

We should further concrete the basement of people-to-people exchange, continue to facilitate two-way visits made by tertiary institutions, media and art groups. Taking advantage of the implementation of the visa waiver agreement, the second assignment of the Chinese medical team and the collaboration between Chinese universities with U.W.I. Cave Hill, we should boost tourism cooperation, deepen medical care cooperation and bring more people, especially the younger generation to join the efforts in fostering China-Barbados friendship.

We should take the advantages of Barbados’ influential role in the region and the favourable policies set out by the China-CELAC Forum and China’s policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean to develop trilateral cooperation of China-Barbados-regional agencies to benefit all.

Here, I want to echo the remarks of former and current Barbados’ resident Ambassador to China. in 2011, Sir Lloyd Sandiford advocated that Barbados should “catch China train now”.

Ambassador Brathwaite recently gave his view that Barbados and its Caribbean neighbours should “look east” and place greater emphasis on economic diplomacy with China.

I shall say that China warmly welcomes Barbados and rest of the friendly Caribbean countries to take a ride on China’s Development Express, not only to fuel Barbados’ and Caribbean economy, but also to upgrade China-Barbados relations and China-Caribbean relations.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

To the next 40 years, I have every confidence in the prospects of this relationship. I look forward, in the following hours, to the insights and inspirations from the panelists and the audience of the future development of China-Barbados relations.

To conclude, I wish the forum a full success.

Thank you.

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