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Huge Potential in Deepening China-Bahamas Mutually Beneficial Cooperation

H.E. Huang Qinguo, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas

With the successful conclusion of the well-known “Two Sessions” of China (Annual legislative and political advisory sessions) on March 20th, 2018, the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era inaugurated a new journey. During the historic “Two Sessions”, the amended Constitution was adopted and the policies and objectives of China for the new era established by the 19th CPC National Congress were incorporated into the Constitution. The new leadership of China was elected and President Xi Jinping was elected as Chinese President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, which was a full reflection of the wholehearted support of the Chinese people. The “Two Sessions” approved the plan for a new round of structural reform of the government departments, which would reach unprecedented range and scope. The “Two Sessions” passed the Supervision Law and set up the National Supervisory Commission, which would extend the coverage of supervision to to all civil servant. In general, the 2018 “Two Sessions” of China has not only demonstrated China’s confidence in marching toward the realization of its great dream of national rejuvenation, but also showed China’s open mind and readiness in shouldering its responsibilities in building a community of shared future for mankind.

I. China’s development instills strong confidence and momentum to the peace and development of the world.

During the 2018 “Two Sessions”, the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered a report on the work of the government, which elaborated China’s efforts and contribution to the world since 2013.

Over the past five years, China’s economic strength has reached a new high. China's GDP has registered an average annual growth of 7.1% and its share in the global economy has grown from 11.4% to roughly 15%. China’s contribution to global economic growth has exceeded 30%. More than 66 million new urban jobs have been added. More than 68 million people have been lifted out of poverty, and the poverty headcount ratio has dropped from 10.2 to 3.1%. China is a major contributor for global poverty reduction with the contribution of over 70%.

Over the past five years, China’s innovation-driven development has yielded fruitful outcomes. China’s investment in research and development (R&D) has grown at an average annual rate of 11%, ranking second in the world in scale. In areas such as manned spaceflight, deep-water exploration, quantum communications and large passenger plane development, China has achieved remarkable outcome of innovation. In high-speed rail, e-commerce, mobile payments and the sharing economy, China is leading the world. The Internet Plus model has permeated every industry and every field.

Over the past five years, with a commitment to its fundamental policy of opening up, China has focused on promoting win-win cooperation and significantly improved the performance of its open economy. China has launched and worked with other countries under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China initiated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, set up the Silk Road Fund, and launched a number of major connectivity and economic and trade cooperation initiatives. China has moved forward with international cooperation on production capacity. High-speed rail, nuclear power, and other types of Chinese equipment have entered international markets. The RMB was included in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket.

Over the past five years, China has pursued distinctively Chinese major country diplomacy on all fronts. China successfully hosted the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, the G20 Hangzhou Summit, the BRICS Xiamen Summit, and other major diplomatic events at home. President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders have visited many countries and attended major events including United Nations Summits, Climate Change Conferences, World Economic Forum meetings, and the East Asian Leaders Meetings on Cooperation. China’s diplomatic agenda has been further advanced on every front. China’s diplomatic actions show that the Chinese people in the new era will as always work tirelessly with the people of all other nations for the peace and development of the world, and will always work for world peace, contribute to global development, and uphold the international order.

II. Joint building of the “Belt and Road” will open a new chapter for the China-LAC mutually beneficial cooperation.

As a natural extension of the 21st century maritime Silk Road, the LAC region is indispensable to the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. This initiative has gained wide attention and responses from LAC countries. In January this year, the Second Ministerial Meeting of China-CELAC Forum realized another transoceanic handshake between China and LAC in the new era. This meeting has consolidated the consensus of unity and cooperation. The meeting adopted three outcome documents including the Declaration of Santiago, Joint Action Plan of China-LAC Cooperation (Priority Areas) (2019-2021) and Special Statement on the Belt and Road Initiative and formed a broad consensus on joint construction of BRI. These documents mainly reflected the clear wills of the two sides to deepen cooperation and seek common development in the new stage. This meeting has provided new ideas and inject fresh vitality for China-LAC comprehensive cooperative partnership.

The Belt and Road is a transparent initiative launched by China. It follows the “golden rule” of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, which proved that the Belt and Road cooperation is equal-footed, inclusive and beneficial to all. In May 2017, the representatives from more than 140 countries participated in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The turnout is a clear vote of confidence from the international community. To date, more than 80 countries and international organizations have signed BRI agreements with China. A large number of BRI projects are well underway and making great contribution to local economic and social development of partner countries.

China and Latin American countries are all developing countries. Based on the common interests and mutual needs, the cooperation between the two sides upholds the concept of equality and mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness, and win-win results. During the last five years, President Xi Jinping has visited Latin America and the Caribbean three times, taking in ten countries. Our cooperation has deepened, expanded and moved up the value chain. China has become the second largest trading partner and the third largest export market of Latin America. The trade between China and LAC reached USD 260 billion in 2017, up by 18.8%. China has invested over USD 200 billion to LACs, taking it as the second largest overseas investment destination. According to the International Labor Organization, between 1995 and 2016, Chinese enterprises created 1.8 million jobs in LAC. China and LAC cooperation has brought tangible benefits to both peoples.

As the Chinese saying goes, “nothing, not even mountains or oceans, can separate those with a shared goal”. The vast Pacific Ocean binds us together, making us partners in cooperation, whatever may stand between us. In our future cooperation, China and its regional partners will jointly build a greater connectivity integrating land and ocean, cultivate big markets featuring openness and mutual benefit, forge independent and advanced large-scale industries, seize the great opportunities of innovation and growth and conduct large-scale exchanges with equality and mutual trust under the BRI. Both sides will forge a new pattern of cooperation featuring broader field, superior structure, stronger impetus and better quality.

III. China-Bahamas cooperation enjoys huge potential and a bright prospect.

As an important country in the Caribbean region, The Bahamas has advantages in terms of geography and natural resources. Over the past 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China-Bahamas friendship and cooperation have made considerable progress, with bilateral mutual political trust strengthened, economic and trade cooperation deepened and cultural exchanges enhanced. China-Bahamas trade cooperation has become closer and closer and the Bahamian delegation attends the Canton Fair every year. Remarkable achievement has been made in carrying out major joint projects. The Baha Mar Project has opened successfully and attracted a large number of tourists, created thousands of jobs and contributed to the economic growth of The Bahamas. The Thomas Robinson National Stadium built by China has boosted Bahamas’ capability in hosting international sports events and other important activities. With China’s assistance, the Nassau Airport Expressway and North Abaco Port Project have updated the infrastructure of The Bahamas.

Lately, Dr. the Honorable Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, delivered a national address and elaborated the policies and measures of the new government in promoting economy, improving livelihood and upgrading government management. I wish the implementation of these policies will effectively promote the social and economic development of The Bahamas and at the same time, create more space and potential for our future cooperation between China and The Bahamas.

Firstly, We should continue to deepen political mutual trust and enhance coordination and cooperation in global and regional affairs. Although China and The Bahamas are separated by vast oceans and have different social systems, cultural backgrounds and national conditions, the two countries are both developing countries following similar development concepts and sharing extensive common interests. China is willing to further enhance high-level visits and exchanges between our governments, legislatures and political parties, and to exchange governance experiences with each other. We should upgrade cooperation mode under the existing framework like China-CELAC Forum. We should continue to support each other on major issues of common concern and strengthen political mutual trust, which will as always serve as the foundation of our bilateral relations. The two sides should enhance communication and coordination on issues including global economic governance, climate change and China-CELAC cooperation, so as to jointly build a harmonious and mutually beneficial community of common interests.

Secondly, we should advance economic and trade cooperation and expand our cooperation to new fields. The economic structure of China and the Bahamas are complementary and the space for future cooperation is enormous. On the basis of the outcome of the Second Ministerial Meeting of China-CELAC Forum and the platform of the BRI, China is willing to deepen its cooperation with The Bahamas in areas such as infrastructure, information technology, agriculture and new energy, and expand bilateral trade and financial cooperation. In November 2018, the Chinese government will host the first China International Import Expo. We are glad that the government of The Bahamas and the Chamber of Commerce of The Bahamas will participate in the Expo. This Expo will not only facilitate our economic and trade cooperation, but also provide an good opportunity for The Bahamas to demonstrate its national image and advantages on this international platform.

Thirdly, we should deepen people to people exchanges and promote our cooperation in the areas of culture, education, science and technology. As the ancient Chinese saying goes, “Amity between people holds the key to sound relations between states”. Friendly relations of our two countries are built on the basis of deepening people to people exchanges. In order to enhance understanding and friendship between the two peoples, the Chinese Government is willing to provide more scholarships and training opportunities to the Bahamians, support exchange and cooperation between think-tanks, academic institutions, experts and scholars, and encourage the exchange of visits of cultural, educational and art groups. In the year of 2018, in responding to the demand of the Bahamian Government, the Chinese Government will hold training programs in The Bahamas for the first time on themes of SMEs management and argo-processing. The draft agreement on air services between the two countries has been approved by both competent government authorities and is expected to be signed officially within this year. The direct flight between China and The Bahamas will greatly facilitate the exchange of our two peoples and inject new vitality to the tourism of The Bahamas.

I believe, with joint efforts of both sides, the cooperation between China and The Bahamas will certainly enjoy a brighter future, bring about more fruitful outcome and our bilateral relations will be elevated to a new level.

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