Xi's visit to Trinidad and Tobago marks peak in ties
Updated: 2013-05-31 15:05
PORT OF SPAIN - The upcoming state visit by President Xi Jinping will mark a peak in the 39 years of diplomatic relations between Trinidad and Tobago and China, Winston Dookeran, foreign minister of the Caribbean country said Thursday.
Xi will visit Trinidad and Tobago between May 31 and June 2, the first visit by a Chinese president to the country.
Trinidad and Tobago and China have enjoyed a strong bilateral relationship characterized by extensive trade, economic and technical cooperation, and healthy diplomatic ties, Dookeran said in a written interview with Xinhua.
Despite their huge differences in geographic, demographic and economic sizes, Trinidad and Tobago and China have always engaged each other as equals, he said.
The government of Trinidad and Tobago recognizes the momentous achievements China has made as a fellow developing country, especifically the major role it now plays in international trade, Dookeran noted.
With regard to China's engagement with the international community, Trinidad and Tobago, as a small island developing state, is acutely aware of the important role played by China and other members of the emerging economies of BRICS in advancing South-South Cooperation, he said.
"Within the Latin American and Caribbean region, China is highly regarded as a valuable partner of the developing world," he said.
During his stay in Trinidad and Tobago, Xi will meet with President Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith and Speaker of House of Representatives Wade Mark.
He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, with the pair due to attend a groundbreaking ceremony of a children's hospital funded by China.
The two sides will sign a number of cooperation documents covering economy and trade as well as education, according to China's Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng.
Dookeran said Trinidad and Tobago hopes to take the opportunity of Xi's visit to raise a number of proposals, including methods for boosting trade and investment between the two countries.
China is a major trading partner of Trinidad and Tobago and many other states in the Latin American and Caribbean region. In 2011, the trade volume between the two countries reached historic levels, surpassing $600 million in value.
Other proposals will include furthering cooperation in the energy sector, identifying new areas for technical cooperation particularly in the fields of agriculture, education and sport, and encouraging the exchange of high-level visits between government officials of the two countries, Dookeran said.
Trinidad and Tobago also hopes that Xi's visit could help strengthen cooperation between China and the regional organizations within the Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as further cooperation between Trinidad and Tobago and China in international affairs, he said.
During the visit, Xi will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Surinam and Jamaica, all of which have diplomatic ties with China in the Caribbean region.
Dookeran said Trinidad and Tobago, cognizant of its leadership role in the Caribbean Community and its strategic position in the wider Latin American and Caribbean region, foresees its growing relationship with China as being beneficial not only to both nations, but also to the Caribbean region at large.
"Trinidad and Tobago is in an ideal position to facilitate deepened relations between China and the Caribbean region and is willing to act as a platform to advance commercial cooperation between China and the countries of the region," he said.