Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford (FP)

Address By Right Honourable Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, Ambassador Of Barbados To The People’s Republic Of China, At A Cocktail Reception To Celebrate The 45th Anniversary Of The Independence Of Barbados At The Hilton Beijing Hotel On Tuesday, November 22, 2011 At 6.00 P.M.

Illustrious Invitees
Assistant Minister Zhang Kunsheng
Distinguished Representatives of the Government and Agencies of the People’s Republic of China
Fellow Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the staff of the Barbados Embassy
Nationals of Barbados
Nationals of Caribbean and Latin America countries

Eminent Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is indeed a cherished privilege and a deep honour for my wife, Lady Dr. Angelita Sandiford, and myself to welcome all of you to this Cocktail Reception that marks the 45th anniversary of the attainment of Independence by Barbados.?? The actual date will be on November 30, some eight days from today, but it is convenient for us to celebrate today.?? There are some 192 countries which are sovereign and independent in our world today, and most of them mark their national day as occasions to inspire national pride, to stoke the emotion of patriotism, to underline the symbolism of the national anthem, the national flag, the national coat of arms, and the national pledge.?? Above all, the day is used to call for national unity, and for a recommit to national purpose.

I therefore use this occasion of our national independence to urge all Barbadians in Barbados, in the People’s Republic of China, ??or wherever we may be, to unite in one accord, and render thanks to our maker for the bountiful blessings he has bestowed upon us, for the untold hardships he has spared us, and for the many graces he promised will be ours in future years.?? May our many hearts beat as one in love with renewed social stability and cohesion for our fatherland and our motherland, for our brothers and sisters!?? May we cast out enmity, and hatred, jealousy and the poisoned chalice, and may our hearts be the dwelling place for all that is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.

I was present at the creation when Barbados gained its sovereignty and independence on November 30, 1966.?? I was present on December 9, 1966 as a member of the Barbados delegation when Barbados was admitted as a member of the United Nations in New York.?? There were many negative thoughts and criticisms at the time.?? How could such a small country claim sovereignty and independence??? Even today Barbados is a country of only 280,000 people on a surface area of just 430 square kilometers, perhaps the twelfth smallest independent country in the world!?? But during the past 45 years, it has become a member of an international system that is structured on certain norms and legitimate rules.?? Included among these is the fundamental principle that all states have equal status no matter what is its physical size or its population.?? All states also conform to the following essential attributes:

  • They must possess a supreme government to enforce law and order over citizens in its jurisdiction;
  • They have a fixed territory with sure boundaries within which the writ and authority of the government extends;??
  • They have a permanent population owing allegiance to a government with monopoly over the use of ??legitimate?? ??force;
  • They have external sovereignty and power to carry out transactions with other governments ??on ??behalf ??of the particular state;
  • They have a functioning economy that can provide public goods, services and institutions for its people and make exchanges with ??other nations ;

A failed state is one that suffers a calamitous collapse in carrying out its essential attributes.?? I am happy to report that during the past 45 years China has suffered no such collapse in its operations. Rather, its economy has grown robustly at 8 per cent or more; it has become the second largest economy in the world; and I wish to congratulate it on its recent stellar achievements in outer space. Likewise, Barbados has continued to be a capable, competent state noted for its very high human development status, and ranked number 47 among the countries of the world, with Norway at number 1, China at number 101 and Burkina Faso at 181.

Ladies and Gentlemen: it is not inappropriate, on an anniversary such as this, to ask "What is Barbados all about? To what does it aspire?" At the base of the Barbados Coat of Arms is our national motto, "Pride and Industry".?? "Pride" here does not mean vanity, conceit, haughtiness, egotism, nor arrogance, but rather self-respect, self-esteem, appreciation of self-worth, and satisfaction in achievement. "Industry" here does not mean drudgery, backbreaking hard work, nor laboriousness, but rather diligence, perseverance, dedication, assiduousness, and determination.?? Those are the qualities that we aspire to inculcate and internalise in the Barbadian national character and the Barbadian personality. That is what Barbados is all about!

What may we also appositely ask at this time is what the national flag of Barbados all about??? That flag exhibits two outer panels of ultramarine, signifying the blue seas and the blue skies of Barbados.?? In the centre is a panel of gold, signifying the golden beaches of Barbados.?? In the centre of the flag is the magical three-pronged trident or spear of the Roman sea-god, Neptune, also known to the ancient Greeks as Poseidon, who used his weapon to control the seas and protect the fishermen.?? But the colonial power, Britain, also once claimed to rule over an empire on which the sun never set.?? So the trident on the Barbados flag is broken, symbolising the end of the coercive force of colonialism, imperialism, and all forms of hegemonism. Barbados is a friend of all, but a satellite of none!

During the colonial period from 1627-1966, Barbados was never a grant-aided territory.?? We never begged alms.?? We never belonged to any mendicant order.?? By the sweat of our brow we have earned our keep, and have paid our way, contented with a little, and playing according to the rules of the game.?? The mainstay of our economy is tourism, light manufacturing, and international financial and business services.

Barbados does not create nor share in the millions of dollars that flow through the financial capitals of the world.?? We have been urged to diversify away from the primary production of agricultural crops into some tertiary economic activity, such as international financial and business services, as a matter of sovereign state policy.?? However, having done that, we have drawn the ire of the G20 which is engaged in a relentless war against small countries that are using the economic tools of innovation and competition to provide individuals and corporate entities with opportunities to engage in tax planning to avoid undue taxation.?? Perhaps we were too much caught up in the unfolding Eurozone-Greek-Italian operatic drama to note that French President Sarkozy characterized Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago, inter alia, as tax havens.?? Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of Barbados quite rightly responded in these words: "Barbados is a highly respected international financial jurisdiction that, for more than forty years, has included provisions in its tax treaties to ensure the reciprocal exchange of tax information. Tax secrecy has never been a concept that we’ve adopted in Barbados, and we are not a zero tax jurisdiction."

Barbados recognizes the right of individuals and countries to speak out against patterns of behaviour that undermine sound tax administration or that prevent the principles of transparency from operating. ??At the same time, the playing field should be level, and all legitimate niches should be open without mischaracterization.

Illustrious guests, ladies and gentlemen, Barbados and the People’s Republic of China established diplomatic relations in 1977! Since then we have developed close bilateral relations.?? High level visits have taken place between our two countries. We have worked together on infrastructural projects, and we have signed cultural agreements, as well as low interest and interest free loans, with both sides honouring the terms agreed upon.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of Barbados made a very successful visit to China, during which three agreements were signed: one relating to language teaching and scholarships for attendance at Chinese universities, a second one relating to a grant of 20 million RMB for projects to be agreed upon, and a third one relating to the Sir Garfield Sobers gymnasium.?? In addition, Prime Minister Stuart raised a number of areas of particular interest to Barbados, including renewable energy projects, climate change issues, tourism cooperation and agriculture, physical expansion at the Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, and a home for the Barbados Youth Orchestra.?? Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Stuart reached general agreement that the two sides should continue to collaborate on the matters.

My task will be to work together with the Chinese authorities in implementing the challenging programme agreed upon by the respective leaders. In addition, I ardently wish to see the many Chinese products on sale in Barbados being balanced by some Barbadian products, such as condiments and sauces, beer, spirits, rum and liquors, and non-alcoholic beverages on the shelves of the Chinese markets.?? I also wish to see more Chinese people travel to Barbados, and participate in our business and financial services sector.

May I at this point indicate that while Barbados is a small country, it does not act in isolation.?? It is a member of a regional grouping, the Caribbean Community, known as CARICOM.?? CARICOM is a 15-member coordinating body seeking to raise the living standards of the Region, create full employment of factors of production, coordinate economic development, and enhance functional cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen: as the U.S. was announcing its refusal to pay its annual subscriptions to UNESCO, a Barbadian, Ms. Alisandra Cummins, was being elected as Chair of the Executive Board of that body at its 188th session. The six Vice Chairs are Belgium, Slovak Republic, Venezuela, India, Saudi Arabia, and Djibouti.?? The 58-member Executive Board of UNESCO is responsible for preparing UNESCO’s agenda for the General Conference, for recommending the appointment of the body’s Director General, and for executing the programme approved by the General Conference.

My address is now at an end.?? I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to raise your glasses in a toast to the nation of Barbados in honour of its 45th year of Independence.

I thank you for your forbearance.

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