New deals to strengthen ties with the Caribbean
Updated: 2014-02-26 07:14
By Zhao Yanrong and Zhao Shengnan (China Daily USA)
Trinidad and Tobago to work with China in energy, health, aviation
China signed a series of cooperation documents with Trinidad and Tobago in fields such as energy, health, sports and aviation on Tuesday in Beijing to strengthen not only the two countries' relationship, but also China's ties with the whole Caribbean region.
Premier Li Keqiang and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the first Trinidadian prime minister in 30 years to make an official visit to China, witnessed the signing of the agreements.
Li said Trinidad and Tobago is an important partner for China in the Caribbean region. The two countries have had fruitful cooperation and exchanges in politics, trade and culture over the past 40 years, since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1974, he added.
Li emphasized that President Xi Jinping's trip to the Caribbean country last year strongly promoted the development of bilateral ties. China is willing to maintain the close exchanges with Trinidad and Tobago, deepen cooperation and push bilateral ties to a new level, the premier said.
Trinidad and Tobago is the largest economy in the English-speaking Caribbean, and its cooperation with China has great potential, said Li, adding that he expects the two sides to expand the advantages of cooperation.
Li said the two countries can promote cooperation in construction of infrastructure and realize mutual benefits from projects that improve local livelihood, ports and industrial parks. He also said they can strengthen energy cooperation with a long-term partnership and produce more value-added products as well as new energy products; expand security cooperation with the Caribbean country; and encourage Chinese companies to contribute more in building the local security center.
The premier also said that relations between China and the entire Caribbean region also have made considerable strides.
China is willing to cooperate with all Caribbean countries, like Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Latin American nations, using cooperation to enhance political, cultural and trade efforts.
Persad-Bissessar said that the two peoples have a long history of friendship, and that her country is grateful for China's support in local economic and social development.
"We will continue to cooperate with China in infrastructure, energy and tourism industries, and reinforce coordinating international and regional affairs, and play a positive role in promoting Caribbean countries and Latin American countries' ties with China," she added.
During her visit from Monday to Friday, Persad-Bissessar will open Trinidad and Tobago's new embassy in China. She will also make a trip to Shanghai, where she will visit a local children's hospital.
Niu Haibin, deputy director of the Department of Latin American Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said Caribbean countries like Trinidad and Tobago can be the gateway for China to a bigger market in the Americas.
"From President Xi's trip to the country last summer, we can see that there is strategic adjustment of China's foreign policy in Latin America. Besides major countries such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico, Beijing also pays more attention to smaller countries like Trinidad and Tobago," Niu said.
The Caribbean countries link the South and North American continents, and their ports provide better access between Asia and Latin America, he added.
"The region has a great natural environment, which can attract many Chinese travelers, so the local tourism business has great potential in the Chinese market," Niu said.
Many Chinese companies are investing in the region so far, but through such mechanisms as the LatAm-China Cooperation Forum and the Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean countries will benefit more from the governments' cooperation in the future, he added.
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(China Daily USA 02/26/2014 page4)