Pulling together, moving forward
Political mutual trust will help lift China-Barbados ties to a higher level
SHI YU/CHINA DAILY
The People's Republic of China established diplomatic relations with Barbados on May 30, 1977. As a Chinese saying goes: "A bosom friend afar brings a distant land near."
Despite the geographic distance between the two countries, China and Barbados share a long history of friendship and are like-minded true friends, good partners and brothers.
Since the two countries established diplomatic relations 45 years ago, the bilateral ties have kept developing and the cooperation has borne fruit in various fields, setting an example of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and common development for the relations among big and small nations.
President Xi Jinping and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley had a phone conversation in July 2021, in which they reached a series of important consensuses, charting the direction for the development of China-Barbados ties.
The two countries have developed solid political mutual 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 country's legitimate rights and interests.
Bilateral cooperation has been deepening. China is the fourth-largest source of imports for Barbados. In 2019, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. The Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Center and Cheapside Public Market built with China's assistance are playing important roles in local economic and social life. Other China-aided projects, the Center for Food Security and Entrepreneurship and the Hope Agriculture Training Institute, are set to start construction. Harrison's Cave built by Chinese companies has become a famous tourist attraction of Barbados.
The Sam Lord's Castle Hotel and Scotland District Road Rehabilitation Project, with preferential loan from China, have made steady progress. "Made-in-China "electric buses have helped Barbados become the country with the largest electric bus fleet in the Caribbean, contributing to local carbon emissions reduction and sustainable economic and social development. At the same time, Barbados rum has gradually become popular among Chinese customers, and more Chinese people visit picturesque Barbados.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Xi and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley exchanged letters to express support to each other. China and Barbados have joined hands to go through the hard 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 it will donate anti-pandemic and medical supplies to Barbados and other Caribbean countries having diplomatic relations with China at the Foreign Ministers' Meeting among China and the Caribbean Countries Having Diplomatic Relations with China, which was held online not long ago. China has sent medical teams to Barbados since 2016, and about one in every 10 Barbadian people have received medical services from the Chinese medics.
People-to-people connectivities and cultural exchanges have never come to a halt. China has sent Chinese language teachers to Barbados since 2011 and Chinese has been taught as a foreign language by the Cave Hill Campus of West Indies University. About 100 Barbadian students have furthered their studies in China with the scholarship of the Chinese government in recent years, becoming messengers of friendship and exchange between the two countries.
A Confucius Institute was officially inaugurated at the Cave Hill Campus of West Indies University in 2015. A growing number of Barbadian people study the 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 relations.
The 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 have been held for eight years in a row. They have also become brand events in Barbados and even the Caribbean region and are well received by local people.
As the world is facing with the complex situation in which major global changes unseen in a century are being compounded by a once-in-a-century pandemic, the global economic and social development and security situation are undergoing complex and severe challenges. Under the guidance of the spirit of the phone conversation between President Xi and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, China and Barbados will firmly stick to the right direction of bilateral relations, maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges, 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 lift China-Barbados ties to a higher level so as to enable their cooperation to benefit the two peoples and jointly build a China-Barbados community with a shared future.
The author is the Chinese ambassador to Barbados. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
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