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Hand in Hand To Create a Better Tomorrow For China-Bahamas Relations

----Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and The Bahamas

Distance can not separate true friends who feel so close even though they are thousands of miles apart. Although China and The Bahamas are separated by vast oceans, the long-lasting exchanges and profound friendship allow us to be neighbors across the Pacific Ocean. Dated back to 1870, some Chinese moved to Nassau and settled down, and their descendants have played an important role in the industrial, commercial and social development of The Bahamas.

On May 23, 1997, the People’s Republic of China and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas established diplomatic relations, which turned a new page in bilateral relations. Since then, China-Bahamas friendship and cooperation have been developing steadily, the economic and trade cooperation flourishing, cultural exchanges deepening. Geographical distance and historical and cultural differences can not stop our two countries from becoming good friends who embrace mutual respect and treat each other as equals. The development of China-Bahamas relations has a profound foundation and a broad prospect.

Over the past 20 years, China and The Bahamas have become partners who embrace mutual respect and trust. Both governments and parliaments had frequent high-level exchanges, with mutual political trust deepened. The leaders of our two countries have maintained continuous contacts. Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the Prime Minister of The Bahamas twice. The Chairman of the standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Wu Bangguo, Vice Premiers Wang Qishan visited The Bahamas respectively. The Bahamian Governor-General, Prime Minister, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Assembly visited China. High-level visits promoted our mutual understanding and trust, and pointed the direction for development of bilateral relationship. China appreciates The Bahamas’ adherence to the One-China policy, which is the basis and prerequisite for the sound relationship between our two countries. China and The Bahamas share same or similar positions on international affairs and maintain good communications and coordination on key regional and international issues.

Over the past 20 years, the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and The Bahamas has been fruitful. The two countries signed a series of agreements in fields of ocean shipping, investment, tax and tourism, which provide legal safeguard for bilateral cooperation. China built the Thomas Robinson National Stadium as aid gratis, which has improved the level of Bahamian sports facilities, and boosted Bahamas’ capability to organize international sports events. By using Chinese commercial and governmental concessional loans, mega projects, such as Nassau Airport Expressway, The Pointe Project and North Abaco Port Project, are constructed in The Bahamas by Chinese Companies. It’s worth mentioning that, as the largest resort in The Bahamas and in the Caribbean region, the Baha Mar Resort, a landmark project of China-Bahamas cooperation, has achieved its phased opening on 21st April after experiencing the ups and downs, which will create more than 5000 jobs, bring new vigor and vitality into the Bahamian economy and tourism, and attract more tourists all over the world to The Bahamas.

Over the past 20 years, cultural and people-to-people exchanges have bridged China and The Bahamas. The exchanges and cooperation in fields of education, culture, sports, health, media and tourism have been deepened continuously. China has provided full government scholarships for nearly one hundred Bahamian young people and has funded hundreds of Bahamians to attend short-term training and degree programs in China. In the Confucius Institute, which was established jointly by China and the University of The Bahamas, Chinese Language courses had been set up for local students to meet the demands of the Bahamian people who want to learn Chinese and understand China. This is a special contribution to our bilateral cultural exchanges. The Bahamian art groups like Junkanoo troupes performed in China several times and were warmly welcomed by the Chinese people. Chinese acrobats, puppets, and children art troupes also visited The Bahamas. In March 2017, Guang Dong art troupe delivered a magnificent performance in the Convention Center of Baha Mar, to the fondness of the Bahamian audience. Under the Bright Journey Program, the Chinese medical team of ophthalmologists came to The Bahamas twice to carry out free cataract surgeries for Bahamian patients. More than 200 Bahamian people were enabled to see the light again, and these activities were highly praised by the Bahamian government and people.

The past 20 years marks a journey of solid development of China-Bahamas relations, which brings tangible benefits to the two peoples and sets up a model of treating each other as equals and conducting win-win cooperation between developing countries regardless of their size. Looking ahead, we are more confident in elevating our relationship to a new high.

Firstly, We should continue to deepen political mutual trust. China is willing to further enhance high-level visits and exchanges between governments, legislatures, and political parties, to exchange governance experiences and deepen mutual understanding and trust. We should upgrade cooperation modes under the existing framework like China-CELAC Forum, and continue to understand and support each other on issues of core interests and major concerns, such as sovereignty, territorial integrity, stability and development. Political mutual trust will continue to be the foundation of the development of our bilateral relations.

Secondly, we should advance practical cooperation. The economies of China and The Bahamas are complementary to each other, and there are broad areas for cooperation. The Bahamas has rich tourism resources, while China is a huge potential market. The Bahamian government and travel companies may strengthen tourism promotion in China, and introduce more facilitation policies, promote the direct flight between the two countries so as to attract more Chinese tourists to The Bahamas. China and The Bahamas also have huge potential and a bright prospect of cooperation in areas like clean energy, traditional medicine, marine resources and infrastructure.

Thirdly, we should promote people to people exchanges. The ways and forms of exchanges should be innovated, and various stages or platforms should be built in order to enhance the effects of exchanges. With the encouragement of the two governments and endeavors from all walks of life, and the facilitation of visa exemption agreement between China and The Bahamas, the people-to-people and cultural exchanges will continue to expand. Both sides should strengthen cooperation and exchanges in fields of science, education, cultural and art, provide more scholarships and training opportunities to young students, encourage them to study in each other’s country, and support think-tanks, academic institutions, experts and scholars to conduct exchanges and cooperation.

Fourthly, we should enhance coordination and cooperation in global affairs. The Bahamas is an important country in Latin America and the Caribbean, and plays an important role in international affairs. China and The Bahamas are important developing countries and share extensive common interests. The two sides should enhance communication and coordination on international and regional issues like UN security council reform, global economic governance, climate change and China-CELAC cooperation to build a harmonious and mutually beneficial community of common interests.

20 years is merely a glimpse of history. The Chinese and Bahamian peoples have made great achievements together. Let’s join hands and work together to create a better tomorrow for our bilateral relations.

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