Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxine McLean has described outgoing Chinese Ambassador, Wang Ke, as a ‘personable’, ‘diligent’ and ‘focused’ individual who has completed her task on this island with ‘consummate grace’ and is leaving behind ‘a body of outstanding achievements’.
The accolades do not get much better for a civil servant in the diplomatic service, and judging by Wang’s interaction with the scores who turned up for her farewell function at the Hilton last night, all were in agreement with McLean’s assessment.
Ambassador Wang Ke is ending her tour of duty in Barbados after three years and eight months of being the friendly face of the People’s Republic of China, meeting and greeting those in officialdom and regular persons across Barbados, while being associated with developmental economic and cultural initiatives for the island.
“Your tenure here has been characterized by dedication to the execution of a wide range of cooperation projects and activities,” McLean said as she expressed Barbados’ gratitude for Wang’s maintenance of an “excellent relationship which [the countries] have shared over the past 40 years”.
Wang has been the 13th Chinese Ambassador to this island since Barbados made the path-breaking and revolutionary move to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1977.
Barbados was her first full ambassadorial posting, having previously served as Deputy Director-General, Department of African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Counselor, Department of African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Counselor, Chinese Embassy in the Republic of South Africa, from 2006 to 2013.
Stating that her three-plus years stint in the continuum of Barbados-China ties “passed quickly”, Wang, projected, “I have every confidence in the prospects of China-Barbados relationship. I sincerely hope that … our cooperation on trade, infrastructure, health, education, culture and other fields can be further strengthened”.
Reflecting that one of the many projects initiated under her watch was a Chinese bank’s financing the rebuilding of Sam Lord’s Castle, she expressed hope for its ‘timely’ opening, and in that tourism vein, made known her wish that “an increasing number of Chinese tourists will take advantage of the visa waiver exemption [by] travelling to Barbados”.
She spoke about more Barbadian young people taking advantage of opportunities to learn fluent Chinese.
Wang’s reference to Barbadians becoming fluent in Chinese is backgrounded in the fact that many nationals of this island have enjoyed language scholarships in China, and that country collaborated with University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, to construct and operate the Confucius Centre where opportunities abound for learning not only the vocabulary, but also to move on to technology and related training.
A footnote about language is that Barbados Chief of Protocol, Philip St Hill, had pointed out in May that Wang arrived in Barbados not knowing English, but on that occasion marking the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties, had made a fluent presentation in English.
The outgoing Ambassador spoke with similar fluency in her almost nine-minute speech last night.
“I have been able to understand this beautiful island, witness the remarkable achievements that Barbados has made since its independence, get acquainted with very warm and nice Barbadian people and experience the unique Caribbean culture … as a piece of Chinese ancient poetry says ‘a bosom friend afar brings a distant land near’”, Wang said.