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Together We Co operate, Together We Advance

      October 1 marks the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and the year 2012 also marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Barbados. At this exciting moment, as the Chinese Ambassador to Barbados, I want to give a brief review of China’s development and the relationship between China and the Latin America and Caribbean.

What China achieved?

      Just one year after our two countries established diplomatic ties, China made a historic decision of “reform and opening up” which later was recognized as not only changing China itself but also the world at large.

      In the past 34 years, China maintained an economic growth of 9.9 percent and over 200 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty. China achieved food self-support for 1.3 billion people which count one in every five people on the planet. It tops the world in the number of vehicles produced and sold, as well as in Internet and cell phone users. In 2011, China’s GDP totaled US $ 7.3 trillion, with import and export reaching US $3.64 trillion, ranking the second largest economy in the World. In social services, China attained a universal nine-year compulsory education and a basic medical insurance coverage for the 1.3 billion people. In each year, China creates over 10 million new job opportunities by introducing new businesses, improving public employment service system and vocational skills training. In the past three decades, China formulated over 230 laws and 600 regulations, making it a socialist nation by rule of law. Some people even believe that with the West entrenched in debt crisis and a lack of economic driving force, China will soon catch up with the developed countries.

      However, this view fails to see the tail of a coin. With a population of over 1.3 billion, the GDP per capita of China is only US $ 5414, ranking 89th internationally, which is about one-third that of Barbados and even less than that of some African countries. Ten million Chinese have no access to electricity. China still suffers from a weak economic foundation, uneven rural, urban and regional development, unreasonable industrial mix and insufficient productivity. Just as the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao once said, “any tiny problem multiplies 1.3 billion will be a huge problem and any huge achievement divided by 1.3 billion will be very tiny.” China is still a developing country and will be a developing country for a long time.

China with the World

      Since the beginning of reform and opening up, China made safeguarding world peace and promoting common development one of its three historic missions. In recent years, China is closely following international and regional affairs and never shrinks its international responsibilities and obligations. China also proposed to facilitate the building of lasting peace, common prosperity and a harmonious world. It takes active and constructive role in global issues such as food, climate change, anti-terrorism, financial crisis and regional hotspots. On one hand, China is concentrating on solving its own developmental issues. As a country with huge population, China’s continuous development can not only benefit its people, but the outside world. Over the past five years, China’s contribution to the world economy exceeded 20 percent, making it a crucial engine for global economic development. The growing of economy of China has created more than 14 million jobs worldwide. In the next five years, China’s total imports are expected to exceed US $ 8 trillion, which will create more business opportunities for other countries. On the other hand, China is a pivotal player in world development. It is willing to work together with other countries to advance the United Nations Millennium Development Agenda and jointly promote world prosperity and progress.

      China is also willing to have open and candid dialogue and cooperation with other countries. The world will see China as it is — a country of good faith, sense of responsibility and respect for others. It is a country that has been advocating democratic politics in accordance with its national conditions and values and respects and protects human rights.

China and the Caribbean

      In spite of China and the Latin America and Caribbean being separated by the vast Pacific Ocean, the friendship and collaboration between China and Latin America and Caribbean countries have been greatly enhanced by the two sides’ efforts of cooperation in economic, political, cultural, and educational issues. China has become a major partner for the Caribbean nations. Just in the past six years after the founding of China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, two-way trade has been growing at an annual rate of 24% on average and reached US $7.2 billion in 2010, and the accumulative Chinese investment in the Caribbean region stands at US $400 million. It helped to build a number of public facilities and projects related to the Caribbean people's well-being---training 1700 officials and technicians, and dispatching 200 agricultural and medical experts and young volunteers, giving over 600 full government scholarships to the students in Caribbean.

      As the Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan stated in the 3rd China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum in Port of Spain last September, in the next three years, the Chinese government will take several policy measures to deepen cooperation with the Caribbean countries including US $ 1billion in loans of preferential nature to the Caribbean countries, no less than 2,500 training opportunities and 30 opportunities with master's degrees for Caribbean professionals to study in China, encouraging more group travels by Chinese citizens to the Caribbean, and sending agricultural experts to the region. In the address at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao this June at Santiago, Chile, He put forward several proposals consisting of deepening strategic cooperation on the basis of mutual political trust, setting up a regular foreign ministers’ dialogue mechanism with the CELAC Troika, buying more manufactured goods to achieve balanced trade, making a tourism facilitation mechanism between the two sides, and encouraging airlines to open more direct flights.

      In the Joint Press Communiqué of the 5th of Consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Caribbean Countries co-chaired by China and Barbados, on September 14 in Beijing, China, the two Sides agreed to continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in culture, education, press, tourism, sports, human resources and other areas, support exchange of visits by art troupes, journalists and athletes, encourage civil aviation cooperation and provide visa facilitation. The Caribbean Side welcomed the establishment of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms by China in the Caribbean. China will continue to provide and gradually increase scholarships and training opportunities to friendly Caribbean countries. China also expressed its readiness to send young volunteers to Caribbean Countries in light of their needs.

China and Barbados

      Barbados is among the first countries in the Caribbean to have diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and the Embassy of Barbados in Beijing, which is the only Barbadian embassy in Asia, shows our time-honored mutual trust and friendship. In the past 35 years, we achieved mutually beneficial cooperation and win-win outcome. Barbados now becomes an important trading partner of China in the Caribbean, with bilateral trade volume reaching US $151 million in 2011, doubling that of the previous year. The Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, the Cheapside Market, have become the symbol of our friendship. We signed a number of bilateral agreements, including economic and technological cooperation, investment promotion and protection, double-taxation avoidance, as well as cooperation in culture, education, tourism and civil aviation. Barbados sent delegations to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai EXPO, while Chinese art groups visit Barbados regularly. Dozens of Barbadian students get the chance to study in China, and a Chinese language teacher is here in UWI, Cave Hill, to help those who are interested learn Chinese. All these engagements enhanced the friendly sentiments between our two peoples, and greatly boosted the further development of our relations.

A better future

      China will not be able to develop in isolation of the world and the world needs China for its development. China will stay committed to the path of peaceful development and steadfastly follow the win-win strategy of opening up. China, as always, will support Caribbean countries in promoting economic development, improving people's livelihood, advancing regional integration and playing an active role in international affairs. The comprehensive economic and social development of China brings opportunities to the Chinese people, the Caribbean and the larger world. With the world together, China and the world can create a better future.

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