Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the Commonwealth of Dominica 15 years ago, bilateral relations have developed rapidly with deepening mutual trust, pragmatic cooperation as well as people-to-people exchanges.
China supports Dominica in its quest to the world’s first climate resilient nation and helps Dominica in its economic and social development. China has helped Dominica with many great projects such as the Windsor Park Sports Stadium, the New Town Primary School, and the Dominica-China Friendship Hospital, contributing immensely to the Dominican economic and social development.
“China is a true friend of Dominica & always stands together with Dominica during hard times”
As the Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit said at the handover and opening ceremony of the first phase of the Dominica-China Friendship Hospital in September, “China is a true friend of Dominica and always stands together with Dominica during hard times.”
On the occasion of the 15th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China & Dominica, spoke to the Dominican Ambassador to China Martin Charles, who shares his insight on why China-Dominica friendship goes beyond distance and time.
Host: This year is the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Dominica. How do you conclude the past years of bilateral ties?
Ambassador: Since the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China 15 years ago, both countries have benefited tremendously from our bilateral cooperation. Both countries have been respectful of each other.
Both countries have decided not to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs and we’ve been working on many bilateral agreements, we have benefited tremendously from agriculture, people-to-people exchanges, culture, education, and health. So we have seen mutual win-win cooperation between our two countries.
When we established diplomatic relations in 2004, we supported the one-China principle and we will continue to support it. It’s the principle that we adhere to.
Host: The Memorandum of Understanding between China and Dominica on jointly promoting the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt & the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was signed in July 2018, but some criticise and doubt this joint effort for deepening the bilateral cooperation. What’s your response to this?
Ambassador: There is a saying that nothing happens before its time. China and Dominica signed this cooperative agreement under the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative is a remarkably great initiative and as I have always said there are many countries, especially those in Africa, that could not afford to go to the banks and borrow money at high-interest rates. Right now, with this cooperative agreement under the BRI, they are able to attract loans from China, with very low interest rates.
They have been able to access grand funding for major projects, thereby helping those countries to develop themselves. So we have submitted a few projects for consideration under the BRI. The Chinese government has favorably responded to us and said those projects are now under consideration. So we expect that in the near future. We will see a lot more projects and a lot more people-to-people exchanges because it’s all about win-win cooperation.
So I will not support any criticism of this initiative. I believe it has brought prosperity to the world and it will continue to bring prosperity, especially to the less fortunate countries. I endorse this initiative as the way forward to advance the economic development of many countries.
Host: Dominica-China hospital in Dominica opened its gate on September 6. What changes has this joint hospital brought about to the lives of the Dominican people?
Ambassador: We are very thankful to the Chinese government because right now in Dominica, the second phase of the construction of our new hospital is called the China-Dominica friendship hospital. The first phase is already completed. Before many of our citizens had to be lifted overseas or sought medical attention outside of Dominica.
Because of this new hospital and modern technology, our citizens will be able to perform various medical operations including many medical tests.
We have a joint cooperation with the Ministry of Health of China, whereby doctors and health experts come to Dominica to assist. As in our country, there is a high rate of non-communicable diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes, so these doctors have been able to help our citizens to gain good health.
Host: What roles Dominica expects China to play in deepening the Sino-Latin American ties?
Ambassador: In March this year, Dominica participated in the seventh round of consultation between China and the Caribbean region. And so there was a communication that was put up by both countries.
There are several technical cooperation statements in this agreement that we will try to implement this year. We believe that China is playing a critical role, not only in Africa but also in the Caribbean, especially in the Latin American countries and the Caribbean countries. We appreciate the cooperation between China and the Caribbean region and look forward to continuing this cooperation with China. In 2021, Dominica will host the 8th round of consultations between Caribbean region and China that will be held in Dominica. So we look forward to hosting this with a view of gaining more projects, getting more people-to-people exchanges and cooperation with China.
Host: This year is the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. How do you see China’s development and its role in the development of the international community?
Ambassador: China is playing a major role throughout the world. Many countries would not have been where they are today had it not been for the People’s Republic of China. Some of them were very poor countries and there were some situations that showed the true friendship of China.
For example, when you had this outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone, China was one of the few countries that sent its medical professionals to assist the less fortunate people there. So China is playing an important role and will continue to play an important role not only in Africa but also in the Caribbean region, in Latin America and the rest of Asia. I believe that President Xi Jinping and this BRI have just opened up a whole window of opportunities for many countries throughout the world.
I have been coming to China for the last nine years, but now I reside in China as the Dominican Ambassador. I have seen tremendous progress over these past nine years in China. I have seen tremendous structural and infrastructural improvements. I know that the Chinese government has done a lot to improve the lives of its citizens.
I really hope that other countries can look at the handwork of the Chinese people and take this as a lesson that if China can do it, we, a small country can also do the same.
I think China sees the world as a global community, in which we all have to look for each other so that when we go up, everyone can go up together. Dominica is very proud of its friendship with China, and though we are thousands of miles away, the distance cannot separate our friendship.