DRAFT REMARKS BY
THE HON. DARREN A. HENFIELD, MP, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE BAHAMAS,
ON THE OCCASION
OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS
THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS AND THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS, 11TH AUGUST, 2017
Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Dr the Hon. Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister,
Ambassador HUANG Qinguo and Madam Zheng,
Members of the Judiciary,
Colleague Ministers and Parliamentarians,
Senior Public Servants,
Distinguished Guests, Friends of the Chinese and Bahamian Community, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour to bring remarks as the Minister of Foreign Affairs as we commemorate the milestone of 20 years of Diplomatic Relations between the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the People’s Republic of China.
Official bilateral relations between our two countries were established on the 23rd of May, 1997. As two Member-States of the United Nations, we have been able to develop a mutually respectful and beneficial relationship in the twenty years since.
Ours has been a particularly harmonious relationship that has been guided and solidified, in the first instance, through the will and effort of our two Nations to develop that relationship into a friendship. So, Ambassador Huang, we welcome this opportunity to share this evening with you to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements reached between The Bahamas and China in those twenty years.
Since the first establishment of relations, we have seen the appointments of eight Chinese Ambassadors to The Bahamas and three Bahamian Ambassadors to China. They have been and are the immediate, official link between our two Governments. They are there to facilitate the communication, planning and implementation needed to realise our common aims and goals.
The Bahamas has been fortunate with the envoys who have been appointed to represent China in our country. You and your predecessors had a keen understanding of our common goals and aspirations, and the passion and commitment to move towards attainment of the same.
There have been many exchanges of High-level Delegations between our two countries as we deepened and strengthened our knowledge, understanding and appreciation of one another’s cultures, priorities, commitments and needs.
Through these exchanges, significant achievements have been realised. The commitments made between us and the achievements attained are laudable, indeed, at the national, regional and international levels.
To be sure, much has happened between us. Of these, the most important, in my view, involve the initiatives that plant roots bearing fruits for our respective peoples. It is the people who set the pace and drive us to carry on pursuing greater heights. It is the people-to-people exchanges that have demonstrated to us the face of the relationship, and which help to provide mutual benefits and understanding, including for example:
- The students who receive scholarships, and who are then exposed to a completely different and unforgettable cultural experience and who, as such represent The Bahamas as Goodwill Ambassadors in the process, learning first-hand about the language and other communicative tools required to cause the rapprochement desired to take place over the long-term;
- Visa-free travel, for Chinese visitors to our beautiful and exotic shores and Bahamian visitors to their expansive and distant land;
- The Bahamians who have regained their eyesight and are able to see how marvellous their world is, all around;
- The athletes who benefit from modern facilities in which to train and in which the rest of the world can share, showcase and enjoy their athletic prowess;
- The high-level exchanges of Officials charged with bringing the messages of the people they serve to their counterparts, for national development;
- The breathtaking cultural exchanges that take our respective cultural experiences to those who have not yet had the chance to visit;
- The cross-training that takes place between our peoples at the technical level during the project development and execution of multiple investment and cooperation initiatives; and
- The business communities and friendship associations that bring their expertise, drive and desire to invest their time and talents in the exploration of opportunities outside their respective homelands for the benefit of their communities.
Concrete – pardon the pun – accomplishments, such as the Airport Corridor; the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium; the Baha Mar Resort Complex; The Pointe resort; the infrastructural developments to help buttress our coastlines against the ravages of sea-level rise; the port developments in Grand Bahama and Abaco; along with the renewable energy endeavours; the mutual support for our international candidacies; visa-free travel; natural disaster relief assistance; and the dialogues engendered and arrangements agreed at the national, regional and hemispheric levels, all contribute to a strong and mutually beneficial relationship.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Modern diplomacy is built on a multitude of experiences and realities of different people, and which allows them to co-exist peacefully in this shrinking world of ours. The ideals for which we are striving cannot happen unless we come together, meet each other and commit to work side by side. Respect for the sovereignty of nations, the promotion and advancement of the socio-economic and sustainable development agendas, urban and rural development, the protection of the environment and human rights, capacity building, and the quest for peace take place when, collectively, we combine our efforts.
China has proven to be a good friend and development partner to the people of The Bahamas.
Excellency, I take this opportunity to reiterate our sincere appreciation to the Government and People of the People’s Republic of China for their invaluable support and contributions towards the development of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas since the establishment of diplomatic relations. To this end, my Government will do its utmost to maintain and promote Sino-Bahamian relations through on-going dialogue between our Capitals, and our business and cultural communities, for the benefit of both our Nations and our peoples.
Please raise your glasses and join me in a toast, “to lasting friendships and fruitful endeavours”.