Kamla to visit China in November
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced yesterday that she will visit the People’s Republic of China in November on an invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
She will also establish a diplomatic mission in Beijing at that time.
Speaking at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s during a joint media conference, Persad-Bissessar also announced a number of developmental plans for the country in the areas of health, energy, maritime and infrastructure development, through a partnership with the Chinese government, as both countries deepen political and diplomatic ties.
Xi accompanied by his wife, First Lady Madame Peng Liyuan and senior government officials, arrived in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday for a series of discussions with the People’s Partnership Government and Caricom leaders.
Citing it as an historic visit, Persad-Bissessar pointed to this country’s 200-year strong direct relationship with China with the onset of the first Chinese indentured labourers, which later progressed to official diplomatic relations in 1974, a point also stressed by the visiting Chinese President.
“I am pleased to report that we will be establishing our first embassy in China this year,” she said, adding that her Government was also considering the establishment of a Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Institute, which will be attached to the Diplomatic Mission in Beijing.
This centre would promote Trinidad and Tobago’s creative industries through cultural exchanges, training seminars and cultural exhibitions in China and could also feature highly in Trinidad and Tobago’s public diplomacy initiatives in Asia,” the Prime Minister said.
Discussions also looked at the possibility of China and Trinidad and Tobago co-hosting an annual Caribbean Music Festival in Beijing, which could become an signature event for promoting Asian/Caribbean cultural exchanges.
Persad-Bissessar added that both countries will continue to facilitate high level delegations and cultural exchanges as we build on our economic and diplomatic relations.
“In that context I wish to let you know that I will be making an official visit to China in November this year by which time our embassy would be fully operational,” she said.
Pointing to strong ties with the Chinese, Persad-Bissessar, said that the People’s Republic was already assisting this country with some major infrastructure projects including the George Bovell III Aquatic Centre, a cycling velodrome, a tennis centre, three multipurpose sporting facilities, the South campus of the University of the West Indies and the children’s hospital project in Couva.”
She also pointed out that both leaders discussed a number of important areas in their bilateral discussions including trade and investment, energy, and mutual cooperation in regional and international affairs, and also signed a number of key Memoranda of Understanding.
Referring to their earlier discussions Xi said both leaders shared “indepth exchange of views about the relationship of both countries, as well as with the Caribbean region, and overarching cooperation between China and Latin America and other national, regional and international issues of mutual interest”.
On all counts, he said, there was full agreement.
Xi said: “We both believe that the deepening of China’s relationship with Trinidad and Tobago serves the fundamental interests of our two countries and two peoples. Next year marks the 40th anniversary of our diplomatic ties, which would be a major historic juncture in our bilateral relationship.”
As to the future, he said, the two countries which belong to the “developing world” will continue to strengthen high-level exchanges, promote cooperation, deepen political ties, promote cultural cooperation of mutually beneficial cooperation and development, starting with the invitation of Persad-Bissessar to visit China.
“We both agree actively to advance cooperation in key areas such as infrastructural development, energy and minerals, and also to continue to advance our cooperation in new areas of mutual benefit such as agriculture, telecommunications and energy,” Xi explained.
He pointed out as well that only recently China funded to the tune of US$250 million the establishment of a Children’s Hospital and stadia, adding, “We hope we can work together to ensure that the projects have very good implementation to the benefits of the people here.”
Xi said that China was ready to work with all Caribbean countries towards a sustainable relationship for the benefit of the people from both sides.
He departs Trinidad and Tobago from Piarco International Airport this afternoon.
He goes to Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States for meetings afterward.