Barbados and the People’s Republic of China are strengthening cooperation through two initiatives.
On Monday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean and Chinese Ambassador Wang Ke signed a protocol between the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) and the People’s Liberation Army of China.
In the other initiative, the Cabinet of Barbados recently approved a reciprocal Visa Waiver Agreement with China to include holders of ordinary passports.
Senator McClean explained that the initialization of the document followed the signing of an agreement between the BDF and China on March 15.
Under this agreement, China will provide Barbados with military aid gratis, valued at almost six million Barbados dollars.
“The protocol signed today serves to detail the specific equipment which the People’s Liberation Army has agreed to provide to the Barbados Defence Force. It should be noted that although the Chinese government has donated military equipment to Barbados on previous occasions – military equipment which has been a tremendous benefit to the Barbados Defence Force in the execution of its duties – this is the largest such donation to date,” Senator McClean said.
Ambassador Wang Ke, expressing delight at the agreement, explained that the equipment to be purchased included a patrol boat.
“I believe that the protocol is a demonstration of the friendship between the People’s Republic of China and Barbados and will play a pivotal role in capacity building, especially for the Coast Guard and in disaster mitigation,” she noted.
McClean spoke of the excellent relations between the two countries, noting that 2017 will mark 40 years of diplomatic relations.
“In 2017, we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Barbados and the People’s Republic of China and of continuous support by Barbados of the One-China Policy. One distinct characteristic of the relations between Barbados and the People’s Republic of China, especially within recent years, is that they have remained engaging and productive,” she stated.
McClean noted two examples of such activities as the recent arrival of a Chinese medical team in Barbados to assist with the provision of medical care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and the Sixth Round of Consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of some Caribbean countries and China’s Foreign Ministry, which took place in March.
“We also witnessed the successful completion and signing of the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and the Treaty on Extradition between our two countries . . . . This year also marked the beginning of the rehabilitation work on the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, which has been facilitated by grant funding provided by China . . . . We have also benefited from cooperation in the area of education, with scholarships, training seminars and tangible donations to assist in several Government initiatives, such as climate change mitigation,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs added.