2020 marks the 15th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between China and Grenada in 2005. Their bilateral ties have witnessed great progress and deepened continuously in recent years.
Economic and trade cooperation has always been the highlight of China-Grenada cooperation. In 2015, Grenada’s agreement with China securing up to 30-day visa-free travel for holders of all categories of passports came into force.
The two governments signed the Memorandum of Understanding on joint pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2018. Grenada also hosted the China-Caribbean Conference on BRI Implementation in October 2019.
As a Caribbean state known as the “Island of Spice,” Grenada is playing an important role in the cooperation between China and the countries in the region.
Global Times reporter Sun Haoran (GT) talked to Grenadian Ambassador to China Abbie David (David) on China-Grenada relations, China-Grenada cooperation under the BRI, China’s presence in the Caribbean and more.
GT: You got your PhD in International Relations from China Foreign Affairs University. What are the differences between your first visit to China and your time here now? What are your thoughts on China’s development and poverty alleviation in recent years?
David: It was a mind-opening experience and I gained so much from joining the program of international relations in China years ago, which helps me understand things differently and develop a balanced perspective of the world as an ambassador.
I have seen great changes since I first came to this country: The sky is bluer and there are more high-rise buildings. China has done a wonderful job of bringing people up and lifting them out of poverty.
I believe all countries can learn from China, and Grenada should look toward China for assistance and guidance on poverty alleviation. Many congratulations to China on its achievement made in the past 71 years.
GT:Reports say that China is helping the government of Grenada prepare a national development plan, but Washington is concerned about Beijing’s presence in the Caribbean. What are your thoughts on this and how can Grenada balance its relationship with China and the US?
David: Grenada is a peace-loving country and we don’t take sides.
We have many friends around the world, including China and the US, and we value our relationships with both.
Grenada is also a developing country and we need assistance from many countries around the world. China has done such a great job in helping us and we are very thankful for that.
GT: What role can Grenada play in China-Caribbean cooperation in the future?
David: I believe that Grenada can continue to be the gateway of China-Caribbean cooperation.
During the Belt and Road forum that was held in our country last year, many participants from the Caribbean, including countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with China, joined the conference.
Because Grenada is looking for continued development since it is a developing country, it has the motivation to take the initiative in China-Caribbean cooperation in the region.
GT: Could you specify in which field China and Grenada can cooperate under the BRI?
David: Grenada and China can cooperate in many areas in terms of infrastructure, tourism and finance under the BRI.
Grenada is rich in nature and crops, such as cocoa and nutmeg, and the country is experiencing expansive and growing tourism right now. We hope China can help us build roads, bridges, restaurants and hotels to further boost the industry.
Although there is still no project under the BRI going on in Grenada at the moment as it always takes time to develop, and it needs both sides to make a deal, but we are working on that and looking forward to seeing more Chinese investments in my country soon.
The signing of a visa waiver agreement between Grenada and China has brought an increase in the number of Chinese tourists in my country, and we would like to see more Chinese people coming to Grenada to do people-to-people exchanges and promote the relationship between the two countries.
GT: Since the reestablishment of diplomatic ties with Grenada in 2005, China has provided scholarship opportunities to study in China under the Chinese Government Scholarship Program. How has the program helped students in Grenada study in China and what benefits it will bring to Grenada?
David: Because of the scholarship program, there are a dozen Grenadian students coming to China every year, and many of them major in engineering, the arts, business and international relations.
Studying in China helps them know and understand China better, which will help grow a true friendship between the two countries that starts from the grassroots and promotes China-Grenada relations.
The two countries also have opportunities that help Chinese students to study in Grenada as well.
For example, St George’s University is one of the most famous universities in Grenada. Its medical school produces the third most doctors that practice in the US and it was accredited to China in 2017.
We are looking forward to seeing more Chinese students and scholars coming to study at St George’s.