#BTColumn – Bringing Together: China-Barbados

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.

by Yan Xiusheng

The People’s Republic of China established diplomatic relations with Barbados on May 30, 1977. As a Chinese proverb says, “A close friend in the distance brings a distant land closer”. Despite the geographical distance between the two countries, China and Barbados share a long history of friendship and are true friends, good partners and like-minded brothers.

Since the two countries established diplomatic relations 45 years ago, bilateral relations have steadily grown and cooperation has borne fruit in various fields, setting an example of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefits and common development for relations between large and small nations.

President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, had a telephone conversation in July 2021, during which they reached a series of important consensuses, charting the direction of the development of
China-Barbados relations.

The two countries have developed strong mutual political trust. China and Barbados respect each other’s national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and understand and support each other on issues related to each other’s core interests and major concerns.

Barbados has always adhered to the one-China principle, and the Chinese side firmly supports Barbados in independently choosing a national system and development path suited to its national conditions and history, and safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the country.

Bilateral cooperation has deepened. China is Barbados’ fourth largest source of imports.

In 2019, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Garfield Sobers Complex, Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Center and the Cheapside public market built with the help of China play an important role in the local economic and social life. Other China-backed projects, the Center for Food Security and Entrepreneurship and the Hope Agriculture Training Institute, are set to begin construction.

Harrison’s Cave built by Chinese companies has become a famous tourist attraction in Barbados.

The Sam Lord’s Castle Hotel and the Scotland District Road rehabilitation project, with a preferential loan from China, have made steady progress.

“Made in China” electric buses have helped Barbados become the country with the largest fleet of electric buses in the Caribbean, contributing to the reduction of local carbon emissions and sustainable economic and social development.

At the same time, Barbados rum has gradually become popular with Chinese customers, and more and more Chinese are visiting picturesque Barbados.

After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley exchanged letters to express mutual support.

China and Barbados have joined forces to weather the tough times.

China has provided 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and 14 batches of urgently needed anti-pandemic materials to Barbados.

The Chinese side announced that it will donate anti-pandemic and medical supplies to Barbados and other Caribbean countries maintaining diplomatic relations with China during the foreign ministers’ meeting between China and the countries. of the Caribbean having diplomatic relations with China, which was held in line not so long ago.

China has sent medical teams to Barbados since 2016, and about one in 10 Barbadians have received medical services from Chinese doctors.

Interpersonal connectivities and cultural exchanges have never stopped. China has been sending Chinese teachers to Barbados since 2011 and Chinese is taught as a foreign language by the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies.

A hundred Barbadian students have continued their studies in China thanks to the Chinese government scholarship in recent years, becoming messengers of friendship and exchange between the two countries.

A Confucius Institute was officially opened at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in 2015. A growing number of Barbadians are studying Chinese language and culture there.

Lushan Primary School in China’s Hunan Province and Charles F Broome Primary School in Barbados have established sister school relationships.

Fish and Dragon Festival launched by the Chinese Embassy in Barbados and the Central Bank of Barbados, as well as cultural activities to celebrate the chinese spring festival took place for eight consecutive years. They have also become marquee events in Barbados and even the Caribbean region and are well received by locals.

As the world faces a complex situation where major global changes not seen for a century are compounded by a pandemic that occurs only once in a century, global economic and social development and the security situation are facing complex and serious challenges.

Under the guidance of the spirit of the telephone conversation between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, China and Barbados will firmly stick to the good direction of bilateral relations, maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges level, will continuously enhance political mutual trust, promote the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, jointly implement the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, and elevate China-Barbados relations to a new level to enable their cooperation to benefit both peoples and jointly build a China-Barbados Community with a shared future.

His Excellency Yan Xiusheng is the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Barbados.

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