By YUAN GUISEN
Chinese Ambassador to the Bahamas
“Bosom friends make distance disappear” said Chinese President Xi Jinping to the President of Trinidad and Tobago during his visit to Latin America and the Caribbean last year. In July, Xi concluded his successful visit to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba with fruitful results to further ties, a gesture of China’s sincerity and high value on China’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.
During his visit, the Chinese President attended China-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit and delivered a keynote speech entitled “Striving to Build a Hand-in-Hand Community of Common Destiny”, announcing China’s proposals and measures on promoting China-Latin America co-operation.
He proposed building a five-in-one new pattern of China-Latin America and the Caribbean relations: sincerely trust each other in politics, cooperate with each other for a win-win outcome in economy and trade, learn from each other in people-to-people and cultural exchanges, closely co-operate with each other in international affairs, and promote each other in overall co-operation and bilateral relations, so as to forge a hand-in-hand community of common destiny. China firmly believes that the world tide flows in its mighty power. The co-operation between China and Latin American countries and the Caribbean states serves the practical and long-term interests of both sides. China proposes to jointly build a new “1+3+6” co-operation framework. “1” means “one plan”, referring to the establishment of the China-Latin American Countries and Caribbean States Cooperation Plan (2015-2019) with the aim of achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.
“3” means “three engines”, referring to promoting the comprehensive development of China-Latin America practical co-operation with trade, investment and financial co-operation as the impetus, striving to promote China-Latin America trade to scale up to US$500 billion and the investment stock to Latin America up to US$250 billion within ten years and promote the expansion of local currency settlement and currency swap in bilateral trade.
“6” means “six fields”, referring to boosting China-Latin America industry connection with energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, and information technologies as co-operation priorities.
“State-to-state relations thrive when there is friendship between the peoples,” Xi said. “And such friendship grows out of close interactions between the peoples.” Over the next five years, China will provide Latin American and Caribbean countries with 6,000 government scholarships, 6,000 training offers in China and 400 positions of in-house studying for Master’s degrees. China will also invite 1,000 political party leaders from Latin American and Caribbean countries to visit China and launch the “Future Bridge” training programme for 1,000 Chinese and Latin American youth leaders in 2015. China proposes to set 2016 as China-Latin America Cultural Exchange Year.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1997, China-Bahamas bilateral relations have kept on the track of steady development, with deepening co-operation in all-round fields. President Xi and Prime Minister Perry Christie reached important consensus on furthering ties during the meeting in Trinidad and Tobago last year.
A mutual visa exemption agreement in effect since February has vastly facilitated the exchanges of our two peoples. In early May, a Chinese medical team visited the Bahamas and performed free cataract surgeries for 101 Bahamian patients, whose sight was improved or recovered.
This year, three dozen Bahamian officials have been invited to China for short-term training programmes sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Nine excellent Bahamian students were granted Chinese government scholarships to study in China in the coming years.
There is an old saying in China – a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. What our bilateral relations achieve today is the sum of numerous single steps made by our two governments and peoples. Through the new measures and initiatives on developing China and Latin America and the Caribbean relations proposed by the Chinese President, our bilateral relations will be injected with new momentum and usher in a new era.
Six decades ago, leaders of China, India and Myanmar initiated the Five Principles, including mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence. Sixty years on, China firmly observed and will observe the Five Principles of peaceful co-existence. China will firmly pursue peaceful development and a win-win strategy of opening-up, which will create new opportunities and space for the development of the world.
In spite of the differences in geographical location, territorial area, per capita GDP and culture between our two nations, we have enormous potential for co-operation. The Bahamas has become an important partner of China in Caribbean region.
Since my assumption of office over half a year ago, I have experienced the friendship between our two peoples and the enthusiasm of Bahamians to develop relations with China.
The Chinese government would like to make every effort to enhance our ties in various spheres based on the Five Principles. We will seek to expand our common interests and ensure our two peoples benefit from the strengthening of our bilateral relations. We firmly believe that it is a good time now for us to work together, onward to a better future of our relations.