Chinese President Xi Jinping committed to give special attention to Barbados’ request for grant funding to redevelop the National Stadium as he held virtual talks with Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Tuesday.
The hour-long talks also explored key infrastructural projects, including the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant for which Government is seeking a loan.
The Prime Minister explained to her Chinese counterpart that Barbados’ recovery was dependent on economic growth, which itself required access to concessional funding through facilities such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Mottley updated the President on projects in Barbados that are benefiting from the BRI, including the redevelopment of Sam Lord’s Castle and the Scotland District Road Rehabilitation programme. She also requested accelerated approval for the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant loan, given the urgent need to complete this work.
She also thanked President Xi for China’s agreement to provide grant funding for the redevelopment of the National Stadium but asked that the formal approval be expedited.
For his part, President Xi committed to strengthening the relationship that has seen increased bilateral cooperation, trust and respect over the past 44 years. He also praised Barbados’ “strong commitment” to the One-China principle.
He noted that both China and Barbados were at a “critical stage” of their development, with China building “a modern socialist society”, just as “the Government of Barbados and the Labour Party are striving to build a better life” for Barbadians.
President Xi praised Prime Minister Mottley for her work to grow the Barbados economy and the standard of living of its people by paying attention to areas such as the digital economy, renewable energy, agriculture and tourism.
“The goal is to bring more benefits to our people, and China will continue to support social and economic development in Barbados by doing what we can. We have taken notice of Barbados’ [request] for China’s assistance to rebuild the National Stadium, and we will pay high attention to this,” the Chinese president said.
The two leaders, who committed to strengthening their countries’ 44-year-old relationship, also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanking the Chinese Government for the recent gift of 30 000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, Mottley said: “I wish to register Barbados’ deepest appreciation of China’s support since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, but, in particular, for the provision of PPE equipment and supplies to assist us in our pandemic efforts.
“In addition, where the equitable and fair distribution of vaccines has been lacking, I commend you, President Xi, for your ongoing action to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines become a global public good. This is the most important decision the world can make today because it is only then that they will be accessible and affordable.
“I support your call for a global forum on vaccines, and indeed, add to it that we establish an international clearinghouse that would provide fairness for everyone,” the Prime Minister added. (BT/PMO)