A New Opportunity for Developing China-Bahamas Cooperation
Huang Qinguo, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to The Bahamas
As important members of emerging economies and the developing world, Latin American and Caribbean countries play a major role in safeguarding world peace and development and boast huge development potentials and bright prospects, making them a rising force in the global landscape. Though far apart, China and Latin America and the Caribbean have a long history of people’s friendship. China pay great attention to the development of relations with Latin American and Caribbean countries, and proposed various visions and plans in different periods.
In 2008, the Chinese government issued its first policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean, putting forward the goal of establishing a comprehensive and cooperative partnership featuring equality, mutual benefit and common development with Latin American and Caribbean countries. In 2014, leaders of the two sides held a meeting in Brasilia and jointly announced the establishment of the comprehensive and cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development. Since then, the relations have entered a new stage of comprehensive cooperation. By the end of 2016, China issued its second policy paper in view of the new developments of China-Latin American relationship and changes in the international relations after the global financial crisis, which draws a new blueprint for the greater development of China-Latin American relationship, and provides a new and rare opportunity for Caribbean countries, in particular, The Bahamas, to enhance its cooperation with China.
The main idea of the new policy paper is as follows: China is committed to building a new relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean with five salient features, namely, sincerity and mutual trust in the political field, win-win cooperation on the economic front, mutual learning in culture, close coordination in international affairs, as well as mutual reinforcement between China’s cooperation with the region as a whole and its bilateral relations with individual countries in the region. We aim to bring the comprehensive and cooperative partnership to a new height by bringing the two sides into a community of shared future in which all countries join hands in development. The main objectives and policies include:
Sticking to the principle of equality and sincere mutual support. China maintains that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. China respects the right of Latin American and Caribbean countries to choose their own paths of development and is ready to work with Latin American and Caribbean countries to strengthen exchanges and deepen strategic mutual trust. The Chinese government appreciates that the vast majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries abide by the one China principle and support China’s great cause of reunification. China stands ready to strengthen exchanges in governance experience with Latin American and Caribbean governments, legislative bodies, political parties, and entities at the local level.
Seeking mutually beneficial cooperation and common development. China is ready to build new framework of pragmatic cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries, guided by the China-Latin American and Caribbean Countries Cooperation Plan (2015–2019), utilizing trade, investment and financial cooperation as driving forces, and identifying energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation and information technology as cooperation priorities, actively explore the new model for capacity cooperation (which refers to jointly building the three major passages of logistics, electricity and information in Latin America, enabling healthy interactions among the enterprise, society and government, and expanding the three financing channels of funds, credit loans and insurance), and speed up quality improvement and upgrading of the cooperation between China and Latin America and the Caribbean. In accordance with China’s financial capacity and level of economic and social development, China will continue to provide economic and technical assistance to Latin American and Caribbean countries without attaching any political conditions.
Exchanges and mutual learning, as well as carrying forward the friendship from generation to generation. China stands ready to strengthen cooperation in the fields of education, science and technology, culture, sports, health, journalism and tourism with Latin American and Caribbean countries. China will actively hold dialogues between civilizations to bring the hearts of our peoples closer, and make contributions to promoting the harmonious coexistence of different civilizations in the world. China will continue to support cultural groups to conduct exchanges, increase the number of government scholarships, support direct flight and enhance the exchanges between the peoples as well as think tanks.
Promoting international cooperation, equity and justice. China is ready to strengthen communication and cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries within the international multilateral mechanisms, and jointly safeguard the international order and system with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as its core. China will advance multi-polarization, promote democracy in international relations and global governance reform, and enhance the representation and voice of developing countries. China encourages and supports Latin American and Caribbean regional and sub-regional organizations to play an important role in regional and international affairs.
For The Bahamas, the second policy paper means an important opportunity to strengthen practical cooperation and comprehensive relationship with China. The Bahamas has rich tourism resources, and China is a huge potential market. The Bahamian government and tourism enterprises should strengthen tourism resources and products promotion to China, and introduce more tourism facilitation policies, promote direct flights between the two countries, and these will surely attract more Chinese people to travel to The Bahamas.
The Bahamas needs to upgrade its infrastructure, and China has an advantage in the field of infrastructure construction. China is willing to support qualified Chinese enterprises to participate in The Bahamas’ major programs of infrastructure construction, and encourage them to hire more Bahamian workers, use local materials and establish maintenance service bases, hence providing a solid foundation for The Bahamas’ economic development.
China has set up a $35 billion package of financing arrangements, a $30 billion special fund for China-Latin America production capacity cooperation, a $3 billion China-Caribbean Cooperation Fund and other financial cooperation mechanisms for Latin America, to provide important financing support for China-Latin America economic and trade cooperation. The Bahamian side can apply actively for early use of the funds. The Bahamas is rich in marine and fishery resources, and the trade potential with China is huge and remains unexplored. China’s policy of encouraging financial cooperation is also conducive to the Bahamian financial services sector.
In recent years, China-Bahamas cultural exchanges have continued to expand and mutual understanding between the two peoples has been enhanced. China has increased its government scholarships, expanded programs of personnel training, and been encouraging tourism development, thus offering more opportunities for The Bahamas to attract more Chinese tourists to Bahamas and send more Bahamians to study and be trained in China.
China’s development is inseparable from the mutual development of developing countries, including Latin America and the Caribbean. China’s development will also benefit more Caribbean countries, including The Bahamas. As long as both sides seize firmly the opportunity provided by the new China-Latin America policy, China-Bahamas relations will be elevated to a new level, and bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples.