BEIJING, China, Thursday August 28, CMC – China has promised aid to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries in a number of areas including adapting to climate change, energy, education and tourism.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is on an official visit to the Asian country, Tuesday met with his Chinese counterpart, Premier Li Keqiang and both men promised to seek more common ground in economic cooperation and broader mutual support on international affairs.
The meeting lasted for an hour and according to officials here the two leaders agreed to expand cooperation in clean energy, agriculture, tourism, education and healthcare.
Premier Li said China will also help in the construction of highways, airports and ports in Antigua and Barbuda.
China will also provide financial aid, goods and no-interest loans to Antigua and Barbuda which has been struggling since the 2008 financial crisis and is facing a one billion US dollar debt that is almost equivalent to its annual gross domestic product (GDP).
Li said he understood that battling climate change is one of the twin-island country’s core interests and that Beijing has managed to reduce its own carbon emissions by five per cent in the first half of this year.
“We understand the island nations such as Antigua and Barbuda in that regard, and we will provide necessary assistance to help you cope with climate change and protect the interests of developing countries,” Li said.
Browne, who is making his first official visit to China since he came to power following the June 12 general election, said relations with China are “central” to his country’s foreign policy and that his visit here underscores the importance of the relationship.
Prime Minister Browne, who is heading a seven-member delegation on his five-day visit, will later this week, head to Nanjing, Jiangsu province, to attend the closing ceremony of the second Summer Youth Olympic Games.
He is also expected to hold talks with government officials and investors in Shandong province.
Shen Zhiliang, head of the foreign ministry’s department of Latin American and Caribbean affairs, said the two leaders have had a “deep and thorough” exchange on bilateral relations and international affairs.
Antigua and Barbuda currently holds the rotating chairmanship of CARICOM, one of the major forces in boosting China’s relations with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Last year, China’s President Xi Jingping paid a three-day visit to the Caribbean holding talks with eight CARICOM leaders whose countries continue to have diplomatic relations with Beijing, instead of Taiwan, that China regards as a renegade province and has been urging countries to accept the “One China” policy in their foreign relations.for talks with regional leaders.
Following the talks he announced billions of dollars in assistance to the Caribbean.