H. E. Sir Elliott Fitzroy Belgrave, Governor General and Lady Blegrave,
Hon. Richard Sealy, Acting Prime Minister,
Hon. Sir Marston Gibson, Chief Justice,
Hon. Ministers of the Cabinet,
Members of Parliament,
Representatives from Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives from Chinese Association in Barbados, Chinese Companies in Barbados, Confucius Institute of University of West Indies, Cave Hill Campus,
Friends from Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening. Welcome to the reception in celebrating the 67th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
In the past 67 years, especially in the past 38 years since China adopted its Reform and Opening-up Policy, great achievements and dramatic changes have taken place. Now China ranks in the world the second largest economy, the biggest trader of goods and the third largest direct overseas investor, meanwhile per capita GDP reaching 8,000 US dollars, middle-income population surpassing 100 million, over 700 million people having been lifted out of poverty, the life of 1.3 billion Chinese people has been significantly improved.
The short documentary film we just viewed shows the latest development in China. In the first half of 2016, China's GDP grows by 6.7%. China is pursuing Innovative, Coordinated, Green, Open and Shared Development and has confidence to reach its own development goals and bring more opportunities to the world.
Earlier this month, G20 Hangzhou Summit was successfully held in China. The Summit described the future direction of the world economy by mapping out a series of practical action plans. During the Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama handed over their countries’ instruments of joining the Paris Agreement to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which shows the firm determination that China and the U.S. are willing to join hands with Small Islands Developing States including Barbados and the international communities to tackle with climate change.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the past year, the relations of friendly cooperation between China and Barbados also made new developments and gratifying breakthroughs.
We maintained frequent bilateral contacts and exchanges and kept effective communication and coordination on global and regional issues of our mutual concern. This March, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao visited Barbados and together with Foreign Minister Senator the Hon. Maxine McClean co-hosted the Sixth Round of Consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Caribbean Countries Having Diplomatic Relations with China. The two sides reached broad consensus on the enhancement of solidarity and pragmatic cooperation. China and Barbados also signed Treaty on Extradition and Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, which marked Barbados the first in the Caribbean to sign the above-mentioned legal treaties with China.
Funded by China EXIM Bank’s Preferential Export Buyer’s Credit Loan, the reconstruction project of Sam Lord’s Castle Hotel was contracted and commenced. Utilizing China-Aid, the renovation and mounting of photovoltaic system of Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium is under construction now. China and Barbados also work on projects such as the expansion of Grantley Adams International Airport, the agriculture training facilities and China’s first group of assisting medical professionals to Barbados. In 2015, Barbados’ export to China increased by more than 27%, marking a sustainable growth in 5 consecutive years.
Last November, Chinese Navy hospital ship Ark Peace, on its inaugural visit to Barbados, offered free medical service to the local public and equipment maintenance service to BDF. A high-rank Chinese Military Delegation visited Barbados early this year and consensus on furtherance of cooperation was reached between the two militaries.
Cultural exchanges between our two countries reached new heights this year which coincided with 2016 the China-Latin America and Caribbean Year of Cultural Exchange. In February, the second Fish and Dragon Festival in celebrating Chinese New Year was successfully co-organized by the Chinese Embassy and Central Bank of Barbados. Many friends have enjoyed the extravagant performance by the visiting Chinese artists. In May, Barbadian artists and chefs participated in Caribbean Music Festival, Caribbean Food Culture Festival and Caribbean Photo Exhibition in Beijing. And in July, Soca Queen Ms. Alison Hinds joined Guiyang International Folk Music Festival in China. All have showcased the unique Barbadian culture to Chinese people, both audiovisually and deliciously. In educational field, Chinese language teaching and training has been exposed to some 1400 local students thanks to the effort of the Confucius Institute at UWI Cave Hill. With the collaboration between Chinese and Caribbean higher educational institutes, UWI China Institute of Information Technology was newly established in Barbados and Jamaica and enrolled its first 37 students in early September.
Ladies and gentlemen,
2017 will witness the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Barbados. Our bilateral relations has grown mature over 40 years’ healthy and stable development. As the renowned Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “At forty, I was free of doubts”, meaning that when turning his forties, a mature person should no longer be troubled by perplexities and would have accomplished a lot. The same is true for China Barbados relations.
Looking into 2017, I expect many more accomplishments in our bilateral cooperation. I hope that Sam Lord’s Castle Hotel project will carry on smoothly and Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium project be completed on time so as to support Barbados’ social and economic development and bring more benefit to the local people.
I hope that China and Barbados could conclude and sign the agreement on mutual visa exemptions for regular passport holders so as to facilitate travels between our two peoples and promote mutual economic and tourism exchanges.
I hope that the first group of Chinese doctors and nurses wi ll work at Queen Elizabeth Hospital very soon so as to offer medical services to local patients.
I hope that the Confucius Institute at UWI Cave Hill Campus and the UWI China Institute of Information Technology will continue to succeed in their teaching, not only to get more Barbadian people exposed to Chinese language and culture, but also to build a much broader platform of education and career for young Barbadians.
I hope that China and Barbados, taking our 40 years of diplomatic ties as a new start, will continue to be committed to each other and forge ahead into an even better future of friendly cooperation.
In closing, I invite all of you to join me in a toast:
To the 67th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China,
To the future of China-Barbados relations,
To the friendship between our two peoples, and
To the health of all the friends present tonight,