CARICOM leaders to meet with China's president

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Thursday May 30, 2013 – China’s President Xi Jingping arrives here on Friday for a three-day visit during which time he will meet with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders.

The visit follows that of the United States Vice President Joe Biden earlier this week and according to a Chinese Embassy statement the visit is to “further increase political trust and consolidate friendship and cooperation with the entire region”.

Biden described his discussions with CARICOM leaders as “frank and cordial” and pledged Washington’s assistance on a wide range of issues affecting the socio-economic development of the of the 15-member regional grouping.

Beijing said that President Xi’s visit, the first to the Caribbean “is also (a) very important event for the host country and its other English-speaking CARICOM member-states, all of which are dwarfed in size, population and economy by their comparatively colossal Latin American neighbours”.

Apart from Trinidad and Tobago, President Xi will be visiting Costa Rica and Mexico and will meet with President Barack Obama in Washington during his two-day visit to the United States, June 7-8.

The Chinese president will meet with at least 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.

China said that it hopes through the bilateral meetings it is hoping to promote cooperation in various areas and inject new vitality to the friendship between the countries.

“China always holds that all countries, no matter big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, are equal members of the international community,” it said, adding that Beijing would “like to expand our exchange and cooperation in politic, economic, culture, etc, so as to advance bilateral relations in a sound and healthy way”.

Beijing said that its “friendly relations with the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region have been growing significantly stronger in the past ten years” and President Xi’s visit comes at “an important time for both China and the LAC region, and even more so for the English-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region”.

“China-LAC ties are also flourishing multilaterally in the new global dispensation. LAC states can today access new forms of bilateral and multilateral China aid through the recently established Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as through wider regional economic and financial entities such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). China is a contributing and non-borrowing member of both institutions.” Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)