On behalf of Dr. the Honourable Keith Christopher Rowley, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Government and People of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, it is my honour to offer congratulations as the People’s Republic of China celebrates the 67th Anniversary of its Founding. In reminiscing on its extensive history, the Chinese Government and People can be proud of their country, the growth of the economy of China, its ascension to a position of leadership on the world stage and its role in global development, particularly in support of fellow developing countries.
I take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to His Excellency Song Yumin, who is presiding over his first National Day celebration as Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Ambassador, I wish to commend you for the enthusiasm with which you have started your tour of duty and to assure you that the Trinidad and Tobago Government is eager to collaborate in advancing the bilateral relationship.
The groundwork for the close relationship between our countries was laid many years before the start of official interactions with the immigration of Chinese nationals to this country in 1896. October 12, 2016, will mark the 210th anniversary of that arrival. On this occasion, please join me in acknowledging the laudable contribution of the national Chinese community to the development of Trinidad and Tobago.
Both our countries have built on that foundation by, among other things, establishing diplomatic ties in June 1974 and forging relations in many domains ranging from agriculture to education, from security to energy and from health to culture.
I am pleased to report that over this past year, Trinidad and Tobago and China have continued to consolidate our relationship. We have continued people-to-people contacts, particularly at senior levels, as demonstrated by the parliamentary visit in January 2016 of His Excellency Chen Changzhi, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China.
Additionally, Trinidad and Tobago has been actively pursuing mechanisms to expand its cooperation with China with the ultimate objective of economic diversification and sustainability. Progress has been made in realising the export of local fish products to China and it is expected that the participation of Chinese companies in Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre will soon become a reality. Private sector efforts have also been underway, a notable example being the trade mission to China by INVENI Business and Technology Limited scheduled for October of this year.
This year saw the completion of ongoing projects such as the National Aquatic Centre and National Cycling Velodrome, both in Couva, and the National Racquet Sports Centre in Tacarigua. These sporting facilities, which have already been put to use by local and international athletes in their respective fields, will serve to augment our local development programmes and our thrust toward sport tourism.
Your Excellency, in 2016 new cooperative partnerships were formed, such as that between the University of the West Indies and Huawei to allow for the exposure of engineering students to the practical side of technology development. Trinidad and Tobago also looks forward to collaborating in other areas such as the use of Chinese Medical Teams, who have delivered yeoman service to the citizens of this country while based at the San Fernando General Hospital.
Our contact has not been limited to the bilateral level but also involves exchanges within regional and international fora. In March of this year, Trinidad and Tobago and eight other members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) participated in the 6th Round of Inter-Foreign Ministerial Consultations with the People’s Republic of China. Further, the engagement between China and members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) has become more robust with the celebration of a Cultural Exchange Year in 2016 and the hosting of several meetings vis-à-vis infrastructure, political cooperation, commerce and local government cooperation including the 10th China – Latin America and the Caribbean Summit, to be held in October of this year.
Within these and other mechanisms such as the Group of 77 and China, our two countries continue to discuss positions on global issues of common interest such as climate change, reform of the United Nations Security Council and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a view to finding appropriate solutions.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to conclude by reiterating Trinidad and Tobago’s commitment to nurturing our friendship with China, one that has been mutually beneficial. Given the similar sentiments expressed by our Chinese counterpart, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago looks forward to even better results and closer cooperation and collaboration in the future.
Please join with me in raising a toast to the Government and People of the People’s Republic of China on the 67th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Gan bei! (Cheers!)