I extend to you all my very fervid salutations on behalf of the government and people of Barbados, on my own behalf and that of my wife, Lady Dr. Angelita Sandiford, as well as on behalf of the staff of the Barbados Diplomatic Mission in China.?? Wednesday, 30th May, 2012, marks the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between Barbados and the People’s Republic of China.?? That highest act of state signified a profound transformation in the inter-connections between our two countries, one small and one big, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific, one with few natural resources and one with a plenitude of such endowments.
Let me give you the background to the state of relations.?? Barbados was established as a British colony in 1627.?? That colonial period extended until 30th November, 1966 when Barbados became an independent country.?? During that time the entire foreign policy process of Barbados was in the hands of the British government, and Barbados had no say in making or directing foreign policy.?? The attainment of full sovereignty and independence in 1966 gave Barbados the responsibility for making, shaping, directing, and implementing its own foreign policy.
Within some ten short years of gaining its independence, and amidst the formidable challenges of reshaping the organs and institutions of governance, reforming the educational and health systems, creating a Central Bank within a reinvigorated economic framework, and helping to form a regional integration movement, Barbados took the courageous and progressive step in May 1977 to adopt the one China policy and to open diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.
Barbados has no cause to regret, rue, or disrelish the decision it took some 35 years ago to enter into diplomatic affiliations with the People’s Republic of China.?? Our foreign relations remain anchored in the wise words of our Founding Father of Independence, National Hero the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, who declared that Barbados will be "friends of all and satellites of none".
The cornerstone of our relations will remain cooperation for mutual benefit, as it has been for the past 35 years.?? When I visited China in 1990 as Prime Minister, I told then Premier Li Peng and a distinguished host of high-level dignitaries at a Welcoming Banquet on May 10 and some 22 years ago that cooperation was at the heart of our relationship.?? I said then:?? "In spite of the great disparities, our two countries share a cooperative and friendly relationship which demonstrates to all how countries can work together in a meaningful way for the benefit of their peoples."?? I recalled, too, the five principles of peaceful co-existence, so redolent with Chinese characteristics, namely:?? mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-interference in the territorial affairs of others, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence.?? That is the essence of cooperation, which I define as the act of working together for a common end, purpose and benefit based on joint active assistance on a bilateral or multilateral basis.?? Cooperation is based on trust and understanding.?? Barbados cooperates with its neighbours in the Caribbean, and with its friends in Latin America, North America, Europe, Africa, and in the Asia-Pacific region.?? Our cooperation is as constant as the northern star, neither bending nor uprooted by each ill-wind that blows.
|??(From left), Dr. Carlisle Boyce, Invest Barbados Shanghai Office, Lady Dr. Angelita Sandiford, Ambassador?? Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford and Dr. Dale husbands, Valencia College, Kissimmee, Florida. (Embassy of Barbados in China)|
Sometimes as in music, the tempo of cooperation may be moderately slow or adagio, while at other times it may be accelerated and become allegro.?? The time seems now to be ripe for an acceleration in the pace of cooperation between our two countries, and I set out from my Embassy a tentative Draft Programme of Projects for initial consideration, debate, amendment, examination, and assessment by our two sides in the hope that we can come up with an agreed Programme by the end of this calendar year.?? May I add that the Draft Programme of Projects is not cast in stone, but are points for consideration which might lead to a definitive Programme as the projects mature one by one for implementation.
The Draft Programme includes projects in the areas of waste to renewable energy and the use of solar power, mid-rise apartment buildings, agri-business projects, cultural and artistic pursuits, a multi-faceted education project including KARST research and education, tourism intensification including investments in attractions and hotel accommodation, hospital construction, a facility for young offenders, port expansion, rehabilitation of the animal flower cave, resuscitation of the sea urchin industry, new hospital construction, economic growth and development based on small and medium-sized industries, evaluation of the natural resources of Barbados, and a major project for the phased rehabilitation of the Scotland District area of Barbados which constitutes some one-seventh of our land mass and which is subject to land slippages.
A little earlier, I referred to the disparities in size and endowments between Barbados and China.?? I could also refer to the disparities between China and many other countries.?? Such comparisons often bring to mind my reads and re-reads of the book Gulliver’s Travels by the English writer Jonathan Swift.?? I recollect with deep interest not only the significance of that work in terms of the early development of the novel as a literary art form, but also the comparisons between Gulliver and the race of rational, enlightened horses who ruled over the land of the Houyhnhynms who were served by brutish creatures called yahoos, between Gulliver as a dwarf living among giants in the land of Brobdingnag, and between Gulliver as a giant living among the little people not quite six inches tall in the land of Lilliput.?? Who would have thought that the giant Gulliver and his heroic deed in extinguishing a devastating fire in the Lilliputian royal palace by using his own hose and self-generated sources of water would have brought such enmity between himself and certain factions in the court of Lilliput??? On such events and occurrences, human foibles and emotions was the biting, sarcastic and sardonic wit of Jonathan Swift based.
But here I make no intemperate judgments, nor do I come to any hasty, unwarranted or uncharitable conclusions.?? I first visited China in 1980.?? That was some 32 years ago, and just three years after the opening of the re-ordered Barbados-China diplomatic relations, I have seen China become the second largest economy in the world, and I have seen it exhibit some of the features of the developed economies.?? Its GDP growth rate has averaged around 9 per cent or more, though this is likely to settle at around 7 to 8 per cent in these times of global recessionary conditions.?? Social conditions have been improving, though there is still a long way to go.?? China is recognized by Barbados and other countries as having attained full market economy status.?? Those socio-economic achievements, reached in a relatively short period of time, translate into real progress, and I take this opportunity to congratulate the Chinese government and people on their successes.?? China stands at rank position No. 101 on the United Nations Human Development Index in the Medium Human Development category.?? Barbados stands at rank position No. 47 on that index in the Very High Human Development category.
Nor has China been ungenerous and self-absorbed in its achievements.?? It has reached out to countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean in cooperation in a way, that to a substantial extent, takes into account the special wishes and requirements of recipient countries.?? That cooperation, through trade, training, aid, gifts, grants, loans, cultural exchanges, high level visits, and other means is deeply appreciated.?? Since 1980, all of the Prime Ministers of Barbados, with but one exception, have visited China, and mutual high level visits have been made, including one by then Assistant Foreign Minister and now the illustrious Foreign Minister, Mr. Yang Jiechi.?? Many notes on gratuitous aid have been exchanged, and agreements for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of tax evasion have been entered into, the encouragement and mutual protection of investment, miscellaneous undertakings relating to market renovation, home vegetable growing, embroidery, grass weaving, and feather craft have been ventured.?? ??So too has a Memorandum of Understanding on the facilitation of group travel by Chinese tourists to Barbados.?? While these have contributed to the favourable assessment of the state of relations between our two countries by successive Barbados governments, they have had no major transformational impact on the fundamental state of the Barbados economy, nor to correct imbalances.
Hence my insistent and realistic call for a deeper and more systemic engagement on the part of our two countries.?? Thirty-five years represents a significant anniversary for reviewing where we are, where we have come from, and where we want to go.?? When I look at our economic and trade statistics, I note that Barbados imported US $578 million in products from China in 2010 but exported US $2.5 million.?? But that was an improvement on 2005 when US $49.1 million in products were imported, but we exported US $854,000.?? That was also an improvement on the figures for the year 2000 when our imports were valued at US $16.1 million, but exports were valued at US $172,388.?? In 1992 our imports were valued at US $6.2 million, while our exports stood at US $184,000.
Ladies and gentlemen, the pattern is clear from the data presented.?? The volume of trade between our two countries has been growing, from US $6.4 million in 1992 to US $60.3 million in 2010.?? Also clear is the inescapable fact that the trade deficit between our two countries is gaping wide.?? Cursing the stars will not resolve that issue!?? Relying on fate will not do it!?? No one owes any of us a living!?? Only through cooperation can we make a breakthrough in a win-win situation.?? It is now expedient for our two countries to build upon the very careful and patiently laid foundations between our two countries, and erect thereon the structures and elements of a creative, tangible and valuable Programme of Projects.
But where do we really want to go??? Certainly we both wish, indeed all of us wish to maintain social progress, growth and development.?? Certainly all of us recognize that economic stability relies on economic growth stimulants, and not solely on prudence in expenditure controls – note, I do not use the term "austerity".??
I have set out a draft Programme of Projects that can help us to build on the slow to steady progress we have made to date, and can help us to achieve even more significant goals.?? For the present and into the medium term, and the long term, Barbados will utilize its founding motto of "Pride and Industry", where pride means not vanity nor conceit but self- respect, and industry means not drudgery but industriousness and perseverance.?? It will also utilize its fundamental principles of peace, democracy, parliamentary government, the rule of law, social justice, the independence of the judiciary, and protection of its sovereignty and independence, to forge stronger links with China.
Barbados will also continue to rely on the enunciated fundamentals of the Chinese government relating to foreign cooperation, namely:?? the principle of equality and mutual benefit, respect for the sovereignty and independence of other countries, provision of economic assistance in the form of interest-free or low-interest loans to promote self-reliance and independent development among recipient countries, and to use best quality equipment and materials in technical projects.?? We do not live in a utopian world, but in a real world.?? We are conscious that all aid comes with strings attached, whether it is aid from Barbados to another country or from another country to Barbados.?? China naturally wishes other countries to have a favourable view of China, to respect its one China policy and territorial integrity, and to support its approaches in regional, hemispheric, and world matters wherever possible.?? China also wants markets for Chinese products, jobs for Chinese workers, and resources for Chinese industries!?? Since foreign relations are based on reciprocity substantially, Barbados must want the same or similar interests as well.?? It is for our two countries to negotiate a win-win situation.?? We undertake to engage in such a process on a bilateral basis, on a regional basis in collaboration with our regional partners in the Caribbean, and with our other partners in the hemisphere and the rest of the world.
And so I close my address to you for this event marking the 35th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations between Barbados, the 14th smallest independent country by area in the world, and the People’s Republic of China, the 4th largest independent country by area in the world.?? I ask you to rise and to drink a toast with me to "continuing good relations between Barbados and China".