The Government of China, through its China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA), has initiated a China-Caribbean Press Programme as part of efforts to build better relations with the Caribbean Region.
The programme, which was launched on Wednesday at the China-Caribbean Press Center, located at the Beijing International Chinese College, welcomed 10 journalists from the Caribbean, who comprised the first batch to formally participate in the month-long initiative in China. The official launch was also attended by high ranking officials of the Chinese government as well as several Caribbean ambassadors.
Speaking at the event, Wu Xiaojun, Counsellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department, noted that in recent years China has been improving relations with Caribbean states and expanding its result-oriented cooperation.
“Currently, China is undergoing rapid development, thus providing great opportunities for bilateral development. Mutual understanding is the prerequisite for deepened cooperation, so we hope to show the real and vivid China to them in an all-round way. Media provides a unique window on the world for the general public. So, I earnestly hope that you can facilitate our mutual understanding, recognition and provide the driving force behind deepening cooperation,” he added.
These sentiments were echoed by Gong Jianzhong, Vice-President of the CPDA, who noted that since the establishment of the body, it has always emphasised exchanges with Caribbean states and promoted people to people exchanges and friendship through culture and dialogue.
“I believe you will foster a fresh new understanding of China after this programme. I hope that through your report, our Caribbean counterparts can know the authentic and vivid China in a comprehensive way,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Guyana’s Ambassador to China Bayney Karran, who spoke to this newspaper after the ceremony, said the introduction of the new programme is one that is probably rooted in the initiative announced by President Xi Jinping during his last visit to Latin America, where he indicated his government’s interest in undertaking initiatives that were going to be of greater contact with journalists from the Latin America/Caribbean Region and China.
“In terms of the specific programme, I certainly think there is a need for journalists to be exposed to each other’s country and region because this is an important way of building familiarity, promoting tolerance and understanding. China is becoming more and more a respected player in our respective countries, not only in economic cooperation, but also in the presence of nationals, but the growth of retail trade, the presence of people in the retail sector, and even in technical areas because of the number of projects that are being done,” Ambassador Karran shared.
“I think when you have this number of societal contacts, you have a lot perspectives and issues that have to be dealt with that is very beneficial from that point of view for journalists from the Caribbean to be present in China to get a better familiarity and greater understanding, so that they can describe to their audiences in our countries what they think China is about, and what [are] some of the positives and not so positives things we need to deal with,” Guyana’s Ambassador added.
The programme, which commenced on April 1st, will run until April 29th, and will see Caribbean journalists from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, given the opportunity to participate in local Chinese culture, engage with Chinese media workers, as well as government agencies and officials.
According to the Vice-President of Beijing International Chinese College, Madame Gui Fan, who also spoke at the launch, the school has undertaken China-International press center programmes organised by CDPA since 2014, and has enrolled 146 international students from 67 countries into the Mandarin language programme.
She noted that it has been through language study and activities that they have learned more about development after four decades of reform and opening up.
“We have known more about the histories, economic development, religious beliefs, cultures and customs of journalists’ home countries through daily interactions. As the Ancient Chinese saying goes, ‘Amity between people holds the key to sound relations between states.’ You would feel Chinese people’s goodwill and hospitality in person here, despite certain language barrier,” she said.