Bahamas, China relations in spotlight with high-level visit
BY CHESTER ROBARDS
Guardian Staff Reporter
The Deputy Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee, Wang Lequan, along with a delegation of Chinese officials began their diplomatic tour of key government sites and points of bilateral interest yesterday.
The delegates paid a visit to Prime Minster Hubert Ingraham at the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre, Cable Beach, where he and Wang spoke about the similarities and differences in China and The Bahamas’ economy and people as well as trade relations and immigration.
Wang spoke about China’s rapidly increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in relation to China’s 1.3 billion people. However, Ingraham explained to Wang that The Bahamas’ GDP as it relates to Bahamians, is skewed by foreigners whose cumulative income produces an unrealistic average for the country.
“On the question of GDP from The Bahamas’ point of view that is a great disadvantage in the international community using GDP as a source of determining the wealth of a nation,” Ingraham said. “We have high levels of international persons who are employed in The Bahams and when their income is taken into account we end up with an average that is not supported by reality.”
Ingraham also spoke to Wang about this country loosening the travel restrictions for Chinese visitors to The Bahamas. He suggested on-arrival visas for Chinese who already hold visas to gateway countries.
“We look forward to many more Chinese tourists,” he said.
“We will have discussions with your embassy to see to the extent to which we can arrange for Chinese visitors who have entry visa to the United States, Canada and the European Union, to be able to also come to The Bahamas and be issued a visa on arrival instead of having to go to our embassy in Beijing.”
Wang told Ingraham that as the wealth of China increases and favorable travel conditions are created by The Bahamas, Chinese tourist visits to The Bahamas will increase.
“In the past the Chinese did not have enough income to afford overseas trips,” he said. “Now with growing salaries and more economic welfare, they are capable of going outside for tours. If we create favorable conditions for them I am sure that more and more Chinese will come over.”
Ingraham also suggested that both countries could also benefit from the opening of crawfish exports from The Bahamas to China.
Ingraham thanked the delegation again for the gift of the National Stadium and the continued cooperation with projects such as Baha Mar and the Airport Gateway Project.
Before the Chinese visited the prime minister, they met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette and Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest at the Police Headquarter’s Command Center to talk about the similarities and differences between both countries’ border controls, especially as it relates to illegal migration, smuggling and poaching.
The delegation’s last stop yesterday was to the headquarters of the Free National Movement (FNM) where Wang and his delegation met with FNM chairman Carl Bethel.
Wang shared some history of the CPC with Bethel and spoke about his party’s upcoming five-year plan for China — the 12th five-year plan in the country’s history — which Bethel said The Bahamas could learn from. Wang said China is attempting to slow its economy’s growth from 10 percent per year to seven percent per year.
Bethel told Wang that The Bahamas has a lot to learn from China’s 5,000-year history and its rise to a global superpower.
“There is much that we in The Bahamas can learn from the wisdom and experience of the Chinese people and government,” Bethel said.
“I am particularly impressed with the success of your planning through your five-year plans and I do believe a greater attention to national planning would certainly be a great benefit to The Bahamas — not just every year a budget, but to have a vision over a longer term.”
Jun 11, 2011
Who is Wang Lequan?