The Association for Barbados-China Friendship celebrates its fourth anniversary this month. We celebrate our progress to date, and look forward to fulfilling more of our many aspirations in future years, with the help and support of our friends.
It is remarkable how swiftly China has become an everyday reality in our lives, as well as a major force in our economy and in international business and finance. My blood pressure monitor, my teapot, my Helix Oxford Mathematical Instrument set, and a variety of our household appliances, are made in China; our band in the Barbados annual Kadooment festival sources materials for costumes from China; the solar photovoltaic panels on our roof are imported from China. ABCF Vice President David Bulbulia drives an all-electric SUV; it is an MG, a familiar name associated with British cars, but his car is designed and manufactured in China, as are all modern MG's. I have estimated that for every 100 dollars of imports, Barbadians have been able to buy an extra nine dollars' worth of goods from abroad, by virtue of purchasing more affordable Chinese products.
The whole world is awed by the success of Chinese development policies in the twenty-first century. Absolute poverty and destitution has been eliminated in China, and the country now boasts the world’s largest middle-income population; although the Covid-19 infection was first recognised in China, Chinese deaths from Covid are miniscule, compared with countries with one-tenth of their population; buses, taxis and public transport in Shanghai and other major cities in China are now completely electrified; cash has been replaced by a cell phone app for purchases everywhere in China; China has more renewable energy on its grid than the rest of the world put together; China is already the world's largest market for automobiles and luxury goods.
Chinese investments are everywhere in Africa, as Rasheed Griffith, one of the ABCF’s founding members, recently discovered on a trip to that continent. Chinese enterprises are creating jobs and opportunities for people from all over that neglected continent. Farmers from Brazil, the US heartland, South Africa, Kenya and many other exporting countries depend heavily on Chinese markets.
Much more could be said of the benefits we all derive from China's remarkable productivity. Nonetheless, this remarkable record of success remains something of a puzzle to most of us. The ABCF can help Barbadians and our Caribbean neighbours to solve this puzzle by enabling us to become more familiar with China and the Chinese. I would like to invite you to join us to help build relationships of friendship and cooperation with our Chinese friends, through our expanding range of activities and services. Those of us who have been to China, who have built friendships with Chinese, and who have access to information direct from China, know that, at the level of work, society and aspirations, the Chinese live much as we do. That is the beginning of understanding, and the base from which we can deepen our perception of what we may learn from the Chinese example.
The ABCF provides a window into China and the lives of Chinese, through our weekly updates of news and commentary, drawn from Chinese sources. Stories and commentary may also be found in this magazine. Our collaborative Youth Forum with the Zhejiang International Studies University puts the spotlight on issues in education, the environment and other areas; and our collaboration with the governments of Zibo City and Shandong Province are a source of information on that area of Northern China. In addition, on our website you will find recordings and reports of our other activities, including our launch in 2019, and our participation in the annual Fish & Dragon Festival. Going forward, we are planning social activities with a Chinese flavour, as well as tours to China, as soon as that becomes more feasible.
Our association has close partnerships with the Confucius Institute and the Chinese Association of Barbados, both of which are represented on our Executive Committee, and we are building our network with other Caribbean Chinese and Friendship Associations.
Caribbean people’s relations with China are our future; they are destined to gain equal currency alongside our current social, familial and economic links to North America and elsewhere. The opportunities for us all to benefit are immense and personal, whether they be with respect to work, travel or enriching the breadth of our experience.