Onward together to a better future for China-Bahamas relations
By YUAN GUISEN
“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, President Xi concluded a successful visit to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba with fruitful results for further ties, a gesture of China’s sincerity and the high value China places on its relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.
During his visit, President Xi attended a China-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit and delivered a keynote speech titled Striving to build a hand-in-hand community of common destiny. His address announced China's proposals and measures for promoting China-Latin America cooperation. It proposed to build 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 terms of economy and trade; learn from each other in people-to-people and cultural exchanges; closely cooperate with each other in international affairs; and promote each other in overall cooperation 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 cooperation 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" cooperation 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 cooperation with trade, investment and financial cooperation as the impetus, striving to promote China-Latin America trade to scale up to US$500 billion and the investment stock in Latin America up to $250 billion within 10 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 connections with energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, and information technologies as cooperation priorities.
State-to-state relations thrive when there is friendship between the peoples. 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 opportunities 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 program for 1,000 Chinese and Latin American youth leaders in 2015. China proposes to set the year 2016 as China-Latin America Cultural Exchange Year.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1997,
China-Bahamas bilateral relations have remained on a track of steady development, with deepening cooperation in all fields. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Perry Christie reached an important consensus on furthering our ties during the meeting in Trinidad and Tobago last year. A mutual visa exemption agreement in effect since this February has vastly facilitated exchange between our two peoples. In early May, a Chinese medical team visited The Bahamas and performed free cataract surgeries on 101 Bahamian patients, whose sight was improved or recovered.
This year, three-dozen Bahamian officials have been invited to China for short-term training programs 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 have achieved up to today is the sum of numerous single steps made by our two governments and peoples.
Through the new measures and initiatives for developing relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, our bilateral relations will be injected with new momentum that will 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 coexistence.
Sixty years on, China firmly observed and will observe the five principles of peaceful coexistence. China will firmly pursue peaceful development and a win-win strategy of opening-up, which will create new opportunities and space for the development around the world.
In spite of the differences in geographical location, territorial area, per capital GDP and culture between our two nations, we have enormous potential for cooperation. The Bahamas has become an important partner of China in Caribbean region.
Since my assumption of office over a half 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’s a good time now for us to work together onward to a better future of our relations.
• Yuan Guisen, Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas
September 13, 2014