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Dilating the vista of the future

By Chen Xiaoyang | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-08 07:56

Caribbean and Latin American nations have great potential for trade cooperation and can become China's strategic partners

President Xi Jinping's visits to Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico from May 31 to June 6, and Vice-President Li Yuanchao's tour of Argentina and Venezuela in early May have opened a new chapter in China's relations with the Caribbean and Latin America. The visits reflect the new Chinese leadership's multidimensional, multi-level "grand diplomacy" strategy, too.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the founding members of the Caribbean Community and the Association of Caribbean States. In a way, the country is the energy, industrial and financial hub of the Caribbean region.

In 1971, Trinidad and Tobago voted in favor of restoring the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations and established diplomatic ties with the PRC in 1974, becoming one of the first Caribbean countries to do so. That's why, despite its small size, China regards Trinidad and Tobago as the "bellwether" of Caribbean countries and a model of China-Caribbean relations.

During his visit to Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago, Xi presented a four-point proposal -that the two sides enhance high-level interaction; expand cooperation in sectors such as infrastructure construction, energy, mining, tourism and financial services; increase people-to-people exchanges; and strengthen coordination in international affairs.

The two countries have agreed to set up a Confucius Institute in Trinidad and Tobago in order to improve cultural exchanges and mutual understanding. They have also agreed to jointly celebrate the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations next year.

China understands Trinidad and Tobago's concerns over climate change and has promised to support small island states' stance at climate negotiations. Moreover, as part of its responsibility as a big power, China is working out ways to supply energy-saving products to Caribbean countries to help them adapt to as well as fight climate change.

In Port of Spain, Xi also met the presidents of Guyana and Suriname, and the prime ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados, and agreed to provide about $3 billion in loans to 10 Caribbean nations and Costa Rica apart from sending medical personnel to the region on condition that they stood by the one-China policy and refused to support Taiwan separatists.

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