"The end of one journey and the beginning of a new journey, full of hope and opportunity" began today in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, with the official opening of Barbados’ first, and "only mission anywhere beyond its traditional sphere of diplomatic action".

That journey, noted Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, will lead to a further development of the relationship in the many areas where the two nations cooperate now, and where they will cooperate in the future.

Her comments came as she delivered the keynote address and declared the Embassy offcially open.

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, the necessity of opening a mission in China had been under consideration for some time. She pointed out that the two nations had "enjoyed a relationship both deep and broad for more than 33 years," which had been marked in the last two decades by "the phenomenal and peaceful rise" of the People’s Republic of China.??

"The consequence has been the enhancement of its relations, not only with Barbados, but with other countries of Latin America. … Faced with these developments, the need for Barbados to enhance its diplomatic representation in China became even more pressing," Senator McClean declared.

She also explained that given the strength and depth of the relationship between the two countries, as well as China’s consistent outreach and support to the region, Beijing was "the obvious choice".

The Minister acknowledged that the establishment of the embassy was a big step for a country of Barbados’ size, which had only 12 Embassies and Consulates-General, the majority of which were in the Western Hemisphere. The remainder, she added, were in the capitals of traditional regional powers in Western Europe and at the principal seats of the United Nations.

Senator McClean stressed, however, that despite the disparity in size between Barbados and China, the potential for enhanced relations was great. "Tourism and investment are two areas where there is great potential. Culture, education, and energy are others where relations can be developed to mutual benefit of the people of both our countries," she observed.

The Foreign Affairs Minister further stated that while the differences between the two countries were great, what they could achieve together was even greater.

Senator McClean thanked the successive non-resident ambassadors of Barbados to the People’s Republic of China and the ambassadors of China to Barbados for their important role in building and strengthening relations over the years. She also paid "particular tribute" to Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, Barbados’ first resident ambassador in China.

"The appointment of a former Prime Minister as our ambassador here is a sign of the importance we attach to this relationship. I wish to seize this opportunity to thank him for all the efforts he has already made, and will continue to make, as he discharges his weighty responsibilities," she said.

The Embassy was officially declared open with the symbolic cutting of a cake by Senator McClean, assisted by Sir Lloyd and Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy. The cake was decorated with the national flag of Barbados.??gapplewhaite@barbados.gov.bb????????????????????????????

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