On behalf of the Executive and members of the Association for Barbados-China Friendship, I join with our sister associations in Barbados and across the Caribbean, and with friends of China everywhere, to offer sincere congratulations to the Government of the People’s Republic of China and to the people of China on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic. China's achievements of recent years are without precedent in modern history, and we join with you in celebrating them.
This year absolute poverty was eliminated in China. There are still tens of millions of poor people in your country, but there are no remaining communities which lack the basics of a modern lifestyle, with no access to health, education, sanitation and housing services. That is a truly remarkable achievement, confirmed by hundreds of independent testimonies. A target was set, a plan was devised, resources were allocated, a monitoring and reporting system was set up, and the target was achieved on schedule. However, China remains the world's largest developing country, with unbalanced and inadequate development. Government is confronted by the population’s growing desire for a better life, and gaps between urban and rural areas and regions. China still has much work to do in order to realize the goal of all-round development and prosperous livelihoods for everyone.
China has an enviable record in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Chinese Government's strategy of strictly shutting down all activity in any city or region where positive cases of Covid are detected, denying entry and exit, testing everyone and isolating all positive cases, allows you to reopen once all community spread of the virus has been eliminated. This has proven to be the best compromise between health and economic activity. Together with widespread vaccination, this strategy has reduced death from Covid to a rare occurrence in China, and has meant that interruptions of economic activity have been comparatively brief.
Other outstanding achievements of the Chinese Government include world-leading investments in renewable energy and infrastructure. Over one quarter of electricity generated in China is produced from renewable sources, China alone accounts for 50 percent of all new energy vehicles in use around the world, and more than half of all the mileage of high speed rail is to be found in China. When it comes to targets for mitigating climate change, China has a proven track record.
China is not yet among the top rank of countries in the United Nations Development Report's Human Development Index, the world's most authoritative indicator of the quality of life in countries around the world. Government's determination to better the well-being of its people is reflected in a preoccupation with income inequality, the improvement of rural livelihoods, the expansion of the economies of second and third tier cities, and creating employment opportunities in the poorer western provinces and regions.
There are several aspects of the Chinese Government's development strategies that are noteworthy. First is the Government's responsiveness to the material needs and concerns of the population, reflected in policies to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing, the separation of families occasioned by migration of workers to the eastern seaboard, levels of pollution in major cities and similar issues.
A second outstanding characteristic of the Chinese Government's policies is its consistent support for the United Nations and its agencies, including the World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation. It is widely acknowledged that major global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change can only be addressed through concerted international action. The United Nations, whose mandate covers all of humanity, is the appropriate institution for devising and implementing global strategies.
A third distinguishing characteristic of Chinese policy is the pragmatic adaptability of the leadership over the last four decades or more. There is a recognition that we live in a dynamic world, and that policies instituted with the best of intentions will have unintended side effects, and in some cases, may prove to be unfit for the purpose for which they were designed. The Chinese leadership makes a virtue of learning from experience, adapting policies as necessary, and making course corrections when performances are falling short of expectations.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a fourth strategy that is deserving of special mention, as a foremost example of win-win cooperation. It had its roots as a way of facilitating China’s trade with Europe and Africa, opening opportunities for global commerce all along its routes. It has grown and developed into an ambitious global networking concept to which all countries can contribute, and from which all can benefit.
The Caribbean and the world benefits enormously from Chinese productivity, through the affordable products and services that Chinese companies sell to us, directly and via third parties. Many countries have also benefitted from Chinese investment. In addition, there is much that we can all learn from the Chinese example, and adapt to our circumstances, about the pragmatic policies that can effectively promote development and prosperity.
The ABCF is dedicated to opening channels through which Caribbean people can inform ourselves of the real China, and build networks of friendship between Chinese and Caribbean peoples. We thank Ambassador Yan Xiusheng and the staff of the Embassy of the PRC in Barbados, and President Lin and our friends at the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries for their support, and we look forward to fruitful cooperation with them and our local and regional partners, as we embark on a future of mutually enriching friendship and cooperation.
R. DeLisle Worrell, Ph D
October 1, 2021