Trinidad and Tobago
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Chinese ambassador: Surge in Chinese tourists

Sean Douglas Chinese Ambassador to TT Fang Qiu. -
Chinese Ambassador to TT Fang Qiu. -

FANG QIU, Chinese ambassador to TT, launched the Chinese Spring Festival Fair in Carenage on Sunday by saying millions of Chinese tourists celebrated the festival this year in China and millions could also visit other countries.

Making the Chinese New Year, as the Year of the Rabbit, he related an old Chinese proverb saying, "Every new year brings new beginnings and possibilities."

Fang said the year 2023 marked the start of China’s full implementation of guiding principles laid out at the 20th CPC National Congress.

"As China has refined its covid19 policies, during this year’s Spring Festival holiday, the hustle and bustle of crowds has returned to restaurants, hotels and malls across China.

"About 308 million domestic trips were made during the holiday, up 23.1 per cent.

"Popular tourist sites around the world are preparing for a surge in Chinese tourists."

With global investor optimism over China's economic prospects, he cited a UN forecast of China's growth accelerating by 4.8 per cent in 2023.

Fang was profoundly proud of generations of local Chinese living harmononiously with others and contributing to TT's economic and cultural development.

"This year is of great importance to China-TT relations, as it marks the tenth anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to this beautiful twin-island country.

" In the year 2022, the bilateral trade volume exceeded US$1.3 billion, an increase of 23.4 per cent, year-on-year against the backdrop of a weak world economy."

Fang said the Phoenix Park Industrial Estate was undergoing smooth construction and investment promotion, and would be ready within months.

As the first Belt and Road flagship project in the Caribbean, he said the park marked the fifth anniversary of the China-TT Belt and Road agreement.

"Upon completion, the estate will inject new impetus to the economic diversification of TT and reinforce its strategic role in the Caribbean region in terms of trade and investment."

The diplomat saluted the two countries' progress in areas like health, education, arts, and exchanges between local government bodies.

Following President Xi’s visit, four Chinese medical teams came to TT, treating local patients, providing professional training, and donating medical equipment and materials, he related.

"Our cooperation in combating the covid19 pandemic has been exemplary. TT was among the first countries to offer China a helping hand.

"To reciprocate, China provided TT with more than a dozen batches of medical supplies and was among the first to provide TT with vaccines on a large scale."

Another outcome of Xi's visit was the Confucius Institute at the University of West Indies, St Augustine, which has benefited more than 3000 Chinese language learners.

"And I am gratified to see the steel pan, the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, has become known to the Chinese people through many wonderful performances by Trinidad and Tobago steel bands on occasions such as the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 and the Fashion Music Festival in Beijing in 2014.

"Recently, Shanghai and Port of Spain made a big step forward in their twinning as sister cities by signing the letter of intent on the establishment of the friendly cooperative relations."

Exchanges and mutual learning have led to civilizations becoming richer and more colorful, Fang said.

"Looking into the future, China stands ready to continue working with TT to open a new chapter of win-win cooperation and enhanced friendship and ultimately build a community with a shared future, so as to deliver more tangible benefits to our two peoples. And I also call on my fellow compatriots and Chinese enterprises to continue making your own contributions to this end.

"In Chinese culture, rabbit is the symbol of liveliness, auspiciousness and vitality. I sincerely wish you all good health and success. May our bilateral relationship take a giant leap forward like a rabbit in the year of the rabbit. Hope you will enjoy the rest of the Temple Fair. Thank you."

Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne said countless examples of cross-cultural engagement throughout history have served to bridge gaps and to increase understanding between different peoples. "In our local context, we have long advanced beyond that point – Chinese culture is now an integral part of TT’s culture. One only needs to think about Chinese food, a cuisine enjoyed by the people of varied descent that comprise our rainbow island nation, or the newly established China Town that graces our capital city."

Browne hailed ongoing initiatives between TT and China, namely the Belt and Road Initiative, Phoenix Park Industrial Estate project, and the Forensic Science Centre to be constructed,

"Undoubtedly, our future together has a sound foundation for development and growth in a myriad of spheres, with innumerable fields to be explored.

"Today, the ability to experience authentic Spring Festival celebrations thousands of miles away from China demonstrates the power of culture as a unifying force between countries."

He said TT and China already share a warm and friendly relationship, featuring an expansive agenda of cooperation, and culture has certainly played a significant role in this.

"Events such as the one we will enjoy today also help to preserve important aspects of cultural heritage. They bring the entire community together and serve as a teacher to its youngest members. "As we see today, Chinese culture is at no risk of extinction here.

"In fact, it is surely nothing short of remarkable that the traditions and values brought by the first Chinese migrants, who came to our shores over two centuries ago, remain alive and vibrant today."