Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, has described the construction of the Confucius Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, as further proof of this island???s long-standing relationship with China.

She made this observation recently during the unveiling of a plaque to mark the establishment of the institution at the UWI.

Senator McClean said: ???China has proven to be a reliable partner for Barbados since the establishment of diplomatic relations 37 years ago. Together, we have built a solid relationship based on respect and cooperation. Over the years, China has assisted in the funding of numerous development projects in Barbados, including the construction and refurbishment of some of our country???s most visible landmarks. Education is one of the pillars of Barbados??? development and thus, this initiative is very critical.???

In the area of education and training, the Foreign Minister said China had demonstrated its long-standing commitment to Barbados through the provision of scholarships in various disciplines. She said this experience not only enhanced the academic profile of the students, but also exposed them to Chinese language and culture.

Senator McClean said the inclusion of Mandarin in the Campus??? curriculum and the services to be offered at the Institute would provide students and others with a distinct advantage.

???Indeed, Barbados??? tourist and other commercial sectors stand to benefit from Barbadians fluent in Mandarin and knowledgeable about China. This is very important as there are many ongoing initiatives to attract increased Chinese tourists to Barbados. Simultaneously, we are working to gain access to the vast Chinese market for products and services,??? she underlined.

The Confucius Institute is a partnership with the China University of Law and Political Science and will have two directors, one from each university. It will offer academic and professional training programmes and its focus will be on development cooperation.

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