China, Antigua and Barbuda reaffirm mutual support, expect more BRI cooperation
Published: Jan 24, 2024 10:59 PM Updated: Jan 25, 2024 12:02 AM
National flags of China and Antigua and Barbuda Photo:VCG

National flags of China and Antigua and Barbuda Photo:VCG

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday met with visiting Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne in Beijing, as the two leaders reaffirmed mutual support and expressed their hope for more cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  

Noting Antigua and Barbuda is one of the first countries in the Eastern Caribbean to establish diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China, Xi said since the establishment of diplomatic ties 41 years ago, the two countries have always respected and supported each other, setting an example of equality and win-win cooperation between countries of different sizes.

The bilateral relations have maintained healthy and stable development, pragmatic cooperation has yielded fruitful results, and people's friendship has deepened, Xi said.

Under new circumstances, China is willing to enhance exchanges at all levels and exchange experience on governance with Antigua and Barbuda, strengthen synergies of development strategies, deepen practical cooperation and push China-Antigua and Barbuda relations to achieve more results and better benefit the two peoples, Xi said.

He emphasized that the two sides should continue their traditional friendship, consolidate political mutual trust, and continue to understand and support each other on issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns.

He noted that Antigua and Barbuda is the first Eastern Caribbean country to sign a Belt and Road cooperation MoU with China and the cooperation between the two sides has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples, adding China is now advancing Chinese modernization on all fronts through high-quality development and this will bring new opportunities for the development of Antigua and Barbuda and bilateral cooperation.

Xi said China is willing to expand cooperation with Antigua and Barbuda in areas such as trade, infrastructure construction, climate change, new energy, medical and health care within the framework of the eight major steps to support high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

Browne thanked the Chinese government for its valuable support, saying that China's assistance and cooperation have greatly promoted the development of Antigua and Barbuda and helped with its poverty alleviation efforts.

Noting Antigua and Barbuda-China relations are based on profound friendship, mutual trust, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation, Browne said Antigua and Barbuda firmly believes that Taiwan was, is and will always be a province of China, and Antigua and Barbuda will continue to firmly abide by the one-China principle and firmly support China in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On Tuesday, Browne officially opened the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy in Beijing and announced a permanent ambassador will be deployed shortly, news portal Loop Caribbean reported on Tuesday. 

At a China-Antigua and Barbuda Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum held in Beijing on Tuesday, Browne identified 10 areas for investment including transportation, agriculture, education and medical care.

"Currently, many goods at our ports are produced in China, and reducing intermediate links can not only enhance price competitiveness, but also benefit our people," Browne told more than one hundred Chinese investors.

They are from sectors including agriculture, food, finance, trade, equipment manufacturing, green energy, electric vehicles, artificial intelligence, infrastructure, aviation and tourism. 

Pan Deng, director of the Latin American and Caribbean Region Law Center of China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times that Antigua and Barbuda, as well as other Caribbean island states, has an economy that is small in size and simple in structure. This means while there is lower resilience to disturbances, it is easier to leverage the economy when there is stimulus. It does not require a large amount of foreign investment to make a difference, Pan said.  

At the forum, Browne welcomed Chinese tourists to come to Antigua and Barbuda for a leisurely vacation and enjoy the island lifestyle, adding that his country is under negotiation with related countries for more international direct flights. 

Analysts on Wednesday expressed hope that the high-level engagement will draw a blueprint for the future and guide bilateral cooperation to go deeper and wider. 

Browne told media during his visit that China not only benefits its own people with its development, but also helps developing countries accelerate their economies and contributes to the United Nations 2030 goals. 

Development is the top priority for the Global South. The Caribbean region and Latin America in general have shown a trend of "looking to the East," as they seek to expand practical cooperation with China to share the opportunities brought by China's growth, Wang Youming, director of the Institute of Developing Countries at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times.