Rowing the friendship paddle together towards a better future

2023-09-23 03:53

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Antigua and Barbuda,On September 22, 2023, local media PointeXpress carried an article co-authored by E.P. Chet Greene, Foreign Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and Zhang Yanling, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Antigua and Barbuda, titled “Rowing the friendship paddle together towards a better future”. The full text is as follows:

Antigua and Barbuda and the People’s republic of China set off on a journey into friendship 40 years ago. In their letters to each other, leaders of both countries expressed congratulations on the achievements of four decades of bilateral relations and commitments to strengthening the steady and sound friendly ties between the two countries.

In St John’s and Beijing, each side held a series of celebrations. As one of the celebrating events, the ‘Friendship Paddle’ Table Tennis Open was successfully held at the Multipurpose Cultural and Exhibition Center of Antigua and Barbuda Saturday 9th September, 2023. Players from both sides swapped skills and made friends through the Open, providing new impetus for the ship of good relations between the two countries to sail towards a better future.

Thanks to the commitment of Prime Minister Hon. Gaston Browne and the concerted efforts of all sectors, the pragmatic cooperation and friendly exchanges between the two countries have made new progress in various fields this year. Preparations for the construction of the affordable housing project are being stepped up; 11 students who got the Chinese Government Scholarships have started their university life in China; The soon-to-be-opened Embassy of Antigua and Barbuda in Beijing will be a new home for Antiguans and Barbudans; Agricultural experts from both sides together visited 16 farms in five agricultural growing areas in Antigua and Barbuda and exchanged in-depth views on high-quality seeds, water conservation and irrigation, seedling and grafting, pest and grass control; During the Carnival, Chinese diaspora dressed in traditional Chinese costumes celebrating the development of Antiguan and Barbudan cultural heritage.

It is expressed in the letters from Chinese President Xi Jinping to Governor General H.E. Sir Rodney Williams and  Prime Minister Hon. Gaston Browne that‘our political mutual trust has grown ever stronger; our practical cooperation has produced fruitful outcomes; and the friendship between our peoples has kept deepening’.

Looking back on 40 years of journey, the cooperation between the two countries has maintained a good momentum which rests on three pillars:

The first is to take mutual respect and equal treatment as fundamental. Transcending differences in political systems and national conditions, we two sides have always understood each other and adhered to the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. As Prime Minister Hon. Gaston Browne pointed out, ‘The establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries on 1th January, 1983, was intended to mark a new beginning between the most populous state in the world, and the smallest sovereign state in existence then’.

The second is a high level of political mutual trust. The leaders of both sides have maintained close contacts since the start of our diplomatic ties. We have supported each other on issues concerning the core interests and major concerns of the other side. Antigua and Barbuda adheres to the One-China principle. China firmly supports Antigua and Barbuda in safeguarding its independence and national development.

Last but not least is the recognition of mutual assistance and mutual benefit as the core principal of our relationship. The needs of people forms primary focus in our cooperation in infrastructure, disaster prevention and mitigation, climate change, agriculture, education, culture, medical care, small and medium-sized enterprises and the empowerment of youth and women.  

It is evident that the cooperation between Antigua and Barbuda and China has brought tangible benefits to both sides and serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples.

Looking ahead, we shall carry forward the friendly relationship,make greater achievements to open up a new voyage of friendship. In so doing, we need to plan and develop relations between the two countries from a long-term perspective, and deepen the synergy of our development strategies. We need to actively explore new potentials of cooperation, and together safeguard the interests of developing countries and promote fairness and justice.

We are of the view that by working together to cultivate more development opportunities, more achievements will be brought to the two peoples. May the practical cooperation between the two countries break new grounds and take our traditional friendship to a new level.