New CTO Appointment
Economics of Going Green
State of Caribbean Media
Passport to Paradise
Death Sentence in 2 Years
Priest Thinks Twice
Charges & CounterCharges
Communication in Tourism
Moves to Oust Savarin
WIBC Settles with Gregory
UWP Leadership Question
Threat to State College?
Why Marpin Was Rejected
Sanford Now In Barbados
Hotels Threaten Shutdown
Urban Baron to Cross Floor
Lestrade & Stabilisation
Urban Baron Did Not Cross
PM Charles Tightens Grip
Search for New President
Tension at N.D.C.
New Independent Party?
AT & T in Dominica
Curtis Matthiew - DFP?
Sonia Williams - Indep...
SARS in Toronto, Canada
Bobby - Independent?
Casino Gambling Begins
Formal Opening of DSC
End of Douglas Dynasty?
Wage Bill Cut
DLP Want Theodore Fired
DFP Virtually Dead
PM's Fiscal Adjustment
Dr Etienne to PAHO
Relations with China?
Sam Raphael Resigns
Tour de Dominica Politics
PJ on Independence
Politics 25 Years Later
Cure For Aids Mooted
DSS Stymied by IMF
New Development at CTO
The Silent Killer
Grenada & Hurricane Ivan
Regional Tourism Security
Making Millions on Haitians
UWP Falling Apart
© Johnson JohnRose
Diplomatic Relations with Mainland China?
July 29/2003: - The Dominica government has been exploring the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China, the Sun has learnt.
Informed sources have told the Sun that Roosevelt Skerrit, the education and sports minister, travelled to Barbados on the weekend of July 18th and held discussions with the Chinese ambassador to Bridgetown, Zhikuan Yang, on Saturday July 19th.
The two talked about possible diplomatic relations between their respective countries among other matters, the sources said.
Skerrit was accompanied to Barbados by two local journalists, Matt Peltier and Carlisle Jno. Baptiste, the Sun was told.
It was not immediately clear why they were travelling with the minister, however, based on the minister's recommendation, the two were invited to visit three Chinese cities from September 2nd to 12th, the sources said.
One leg of the trip will coincide with a Caribbean investment workshop and fair which is being hosted by the Chinese government and to which ministers from eight Caribbean countries that have diplomatic relations with Beijing have been invited.
Yang would not confirm whether talks were held with Skerritt, but he told the Sun that Beijing was interested in establishing official links with Dominica.
"China attaches great importance to the development of the relations between the Peoples Republic of China and Dominica and we would like to establish diplomatic relations with Dominica on a basis of five principles of a peaceful coexistence and of course, one China principle, as soon as possible," Yang told the Sun in an interview.
"I think we are ready. There is no problem with China and if the government of Dominica is ready we can do it. If they are not so ready we can wait," added the ambassador.
The five principles that form the basis of China's relationship with foreign countries, the ambassador said, would include mutual respect for state sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
Taiwan has been the focus of Beijing's ire since the defeated Chinese Nationalist leader, Chiang Kai-shek, retreated there with his forces in 1949, establishing a "temporary" government in exile.
Beijing continues to insist that Taiwan is a renegade province and has refused to establish diplomatic ties with countries that have official relations with Taipei.
Only about 20 of the more than 180 countries that are members of the United Nations (UN) have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, while some 160 have ties with China. Taiwan does not hold a seat at the UN.
This means that, should Dominica decide to establish diplomatic relations with China, it must sever its ties with Taipei with which it instituted formal relations in 1983 and which is believed to be Dominica's single largest aid donor.
Asked if he had been in contact with anyone from the government of Dominica regarding diplomatic relations, Yang told the Sun: "In terms of our embassy or me myself, I have one or two friends from the government of Dominica."
The Chinese ambassador to Bridgetown repeated several times that Beijing was ready to begin formal talks with the government of Dominica as soon as Roseau was ready.
Yang told the Sun that China had been approached to provide economic assistance to Dominica, but, he said, the two counties must first have formal ties.
"Although we don't have diplomatic relationship with Dominica still we are very sympathetic with what's happening in Dominica (with) their economic and financial difficulties.
"After we establish diplomatic relations, according to our aid policy we can provide economic assistance to Dominica within our capacity. You can tell the people of Dominica that we are serious and we are sincere," Yang told the Sun.
The Chinese government has demonstrated its willingness to provide extensive help to Caribbean countries with which it enjoys formal ties, Chinese officials told the Sun.
In St. Lucia, for example, with which Beijing established formal diplomatic relations in September 1997, China has provide grant funding for a multi-million dollar free trade zone projects with 12 warehouses with office unit, and a 15,000 seat track-and-field and football stadium worth US$1.5 million, as well as an annual scholarship for PhD studies, an official at the Chinese embassy in Castries told the Sun.
In addition, Beijing will provide grant funding for a multi-million dollar cultural centre and a psychiatric hospital, the official said.
In Barbados, the Chinese assisted with a gymnasium and in completing one wing of the Sherbourne Conference Centre, Yang added.
"Since we have (had) diplomatic relations with all these (Caribbean) countries, some 20 years, some 30 year, some recently as five years ago, the joint efforts of the two sides and the friendly relations between China and those countries have been enhanced a great deal, both politically and economically.
"China is a developing country and we will look after (the interest of) developing countries like Dominica," stated the ambassador, adding that his country was already assisting Dominica indirectly through its contributions to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the UN.
The Sun made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Skerritt and Osborne Riviere, the foreign affairs minister, to find out if the education and sport minister's contact with Yang as sanctioned by cabinet.
However, a senior government officer told the Sun that cabinet had not authorise the talks.
In fact, the source stated, there was a cabinet decision, taken by a previous administration but not rescinded by the current administration, that no government minister should visit Beijing. The claim could not be independently confirmed by the Sun.
"(However), I have information that at least two ministers in the present government have visited Beijing, although not in an official capacity," said the officer.
One of the two was Vince Henderson, the agriculture minister who attended a meeting in Beijing last November and was invited to visit Shanghai, a Chinese official told the Sun.
It was not clear who the second minister was.
The invitation to Henderson was extended at a time when Shanghai was bidding to host the 2010 World Exposition and was seeking Dominica's support.
"Eventually, Dominica did nothing, but China won anyway," the official said.