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His Excellency Zeng Qinghong, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China, has said that his government would continue to assist Caribbean countries without attaching any political conditions and would be encouraging Chinese enterprises to invest more in the region.
The Vice President was speaking at this morning’s (Feb. 2) opening of the China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum 2005, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, where he put forward a five-point proposal for the continued and substantive progress of China-Caribbean relations on the basis of mutual benefit and win-win results.
He listed the proposal as: maintaining the exchange of high level visits and cementing political relations; creating new forms and exploring existing areas of cooperation; giving full play to the role of government in providing quality services; promoting cultural exchanges and enhancing mutual friendship; and enhancing consultation and cooperation to safeguard common interests.
Expounding on the proposals, Mr. Qinghong said that good political relations was an important foundation and a strong guarantee for friendly relations and cooperation in the economic, trade and other fields.
He said that China stood ready to enhance communication and exchanges with the region’s governments, political parties and parliaments and to actively promote exchanges at all levels in all fields.
China has established diplomatic ties with 10 Caribbean countries to date, almost all of whose leaders have paid visits to China, and Chinese leaders have also visited some of these territories.
Mr. Qinghong pointed out that the Caribbean countries, over the years, have supported China firmly as was evident last year when China got strong support from many Caribbean countries in its application for permanent observer status in the Organization of American States (OAS).
Meanwhile, the Vice President said that effort should be made to tap into the trade potentials and to optimize the China-Caribbean trade structure. He spoke highly of the recognition of China’s full market status by the Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, St. Lucia, Dominica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.He also made reference to the abundant tourist resources available in the Caribbean region and noted that China-Caribbean tourism cooperation had a promising future.
In order to create a favourable environment for economic and trade activities, the Vice President said, governments on both sides should enhance the exchange of market, commodity and trade information, and also act as a bridge between enterprises, encouraging them to attend trade fairs held by the respective countries.
He suggested also, that to improve the investment environment, governments should put legislation in place that would be favourable to two-way investment and push for the signing and implementation of agreements on protecting investment and avoiding double taxation.
As far as cultural exchange is concerned, Mr. Qinghong said that both China and the Caribbean have a splendid history and culture and as such, a lot could be done in developing cultural exchanges.
He indicated that China would continue to send art troupes and delegations to the Caribbean and would welcome Caribbean artistes to China. The Vice President suggested that journalists on the two sides should also increase exchanges, adding that the Chinese government welcomed students from Caribbean countries having diplomatic ties with China.
At the multilateral level, the Vice President said that as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), China stood ready to enhance cooperation with the Caribbean and to offer support in the WTO and other multilateral settings.
He noted also, that as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China would continue to safeguard the rights and interests of the vast number of developing countries, those in the Caribbean included, in various international arenas. Meanwhile, Mr. Qinghong said that against the backdrop of uncertain and destabilizing factors, including regional conflicts and terrorism, and the implementation of new trade barriers, developing countries should work hand in hand in pursuit of faster and common development while sparing no effort in promoting all-round, coordinated and sustainable development for all mankind.
China is the largest developing country in the world, maintaining an average of 9.4 per cent annual growth for 26 consecutive years.
Export and import, only US$20.6 billion in 1978, shot up to US$1.1 trillion in 2004, with the utilized foreign investment totaling US$562.1 billion in accumulative terms by the end of 2004.
“I am confident that China’s development will not only benefit the Chinese people but also provide a wide spectrum of growth opportunities for all countries around the world, including Latin America and the Caribbean”, he stated.
The Vice President’s visit to Jamaica wraps up a five-state tour of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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