Relations between Barbados and China are expected to be further strengthened as a result of the upcoming official visit of China’s Vice Premier of the State Council, Hui Liangyu. The two-day visit will be from February 15-17.

This country and the People’s Republic of China first established formal relations in 1977, and since then they have gone from strength to strength, with successive Barbados administrations improving relations as they maintained the ‘One-China Policy’.

Over the years, the two countries have signed a number of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding, as well as a Double Taxation Agreement; and Barbados has benefitted through technical and financial aid from the Chinese.

In recent times, China has provided much assistance in large development projects, like the Gymnasium, the Cheapside Market, and Independence Square, and scholarships to Barbadian students to pursue studies in that country. There have also been increased cultural contacts.

When Prime Minister David Thompson visited China last May, he held extensive talks with the Director of China’s National Tourism Administration, Shao Qiwei, and the two expressed the desire to see tourism between the two countries develop.

It is reported that over 41 million Chinese travel annually and there were plans for a number of Chinese journalists and tour operators to visit Barbados and the Caribbean to get a first hand look at the region’s tourism product.

Barbados and nine other CARICOM countries are planning to participate and showcase their products and services at the 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai from May 1 to October 31. The theme of the exposition is “Better City, Better Life” and, to date, some 185 countries and 45 international organisations have registered to take part in the exposition.

The CARICOM Secretariat is expected to coordinate the region’s participation at the exposition, using the sub-theme “Blending of Diverse Cultures in the City” for the individual countries’ exhibits.

In addition to bilateral arrangements with separate states in the region, China further contributes to their joint development as a non-borrowing member of the Caribbean Development Bank.

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