Building on the blueprint
[Shi Songran/for China Daily]
China and Guyana are taking the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of ties to raise their friendship to a higher level
The people of China and Guyana have scripted a good story of ongoing friendship for half a century, and Guyana has become an important partner of China in the Caribbean region.
This June 27 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Guyana. Guyana took the lead in the English-speaking Caribbean to establish diplomatic ties with China, opening a new era of friendship between China and the Caribbean countries.
Guyana means "Land of Many Waters". Bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the north, it is the only English-speaking country in South America. Although China and Guyana are far away from each other, they have a long history of friendly relations. The first Chinese indentured laborers arrived in Guyana as early as the middle of the 19th century. They worked hard and lived in harmony with other ethnic groups in Guyana, making important contributions to achieving the "One Guyana" vision. The Guyana National Anthem says "one land of six peoples", and the Chinese are one of the "six peoples". The first president of Guyana, Arthur Chung, was of Chinese descent.
Mutual respect and equality are the principles of China-Guyana relations. The seeds of mutual political trust were sown long before the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972, when Janet Jagan, general secretary of the People's Progressive Party of Guyana, visited China in 1962 and was received by Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai. When Guyana became independent in 1966, China immediately recognized it. In 1971, Guyana voted in favor of Resolution No 2758 recognizing the People's Republic of China's lawful seat at the United Nations. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, Guyana has firmly adhered to the one-China principle, and China has also firmly supported Guyana in pursuing an independent development path that is in line with its own national conditions. The two sides support each other on issues concerning each other's core interests, maintain close coordination in international affairs, jointly uphold the principles of multilateralism and safeguard the overall interests of developing countries. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali talked over the phone, drawing a new blueprint for the development of China-Guyana relations.
Mutual benefit and joint development are the bases of China-Guyana cooperation. The bilateral trade volume bucked the pandemic trend and grew by 123 percent, reaching $710 million in 2021. It has increased by nearly four folds in the past 10 years. Chinese investment in Guyana is growing rapidly, with more and more Chinese companies coming to Guyana to invest and set up businesses. The conference center, roads, hotels and airport built with Chinese aid or participation have changed the look of Guyana, while projects such as ferries, water plants and broadband networks have improved the livelihoods of local people.
In 2018, the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative, which has injected new impetus into the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides. The cooperation agreement covers agriculture, energy and mining, transportation, telecommunications and many other fields.
Mutual support and assistance are the traditions of China-Guyana friendship. In 1993, China sent a medical team to Guyana, which was the first one sent by the Chinese government to Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the past 30 years, 17 consecutive Chinese medical teams with 247 experts in total have been sent to Guyana, treating 1.3 million cases and performing more than 70,000 surgeries, for which they won the unanimous praise of all sectors of Guyanese society. During the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Guyana have offered each other a helping hand and overcome the difficulties together. Guyana provided China with invaluable support when China's fight against the pandemic was at its toughest period, and China took the lead in providing urgently needed medical supplies to Guyana. Guyana is also the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean to receive vaccines donated by China.
Mutual understanding and a meeting of minds are the key to China-Guyana ties. Guyanese people have a tradition of flying kites during Easter. It is proof that the kite-flying culture, which is widely believed to have originated in ancient China, spread across the seas and struck roots in Guyana over the years. Chinese food and the lion dance have become integral parts of Guyana's diverse culture, and the Confucius Institute at the University of Guyana is a window for the Guyanese to further appreciate Chinese culture. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, arts and sports groups from the two countries have maintained regular exchanges. More and more Guyanese students and other people from all walks of life get chances to study or take training courses in China, experiencing China's development firsthand. They have become ambassadors of friendship between the two countries, and also the builders of One Guyana.
Cherishing 50 years of ongoing friendship and cooperation, let's advance hand in hand for a shared future. China is now taking confident strides toward the second centenary goal of becoming a great modern socialist country in all respects, and Guyana, as an emerging oil-producing country, is also facing major development opportunities. Standing at a new historical starting point, we have reasons to believe that under the leadership of the presidents of the two countries, China and Guyana will take the celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations as an opportunity to deepen mutual political trust, strengthen economic and trade cooperation, enhance exchanges and mutual understanding, and continuously write a new chapter of bilateral relations, so as to move together toward a brighter future of common prosperity.
The author is the Chinese ambassador to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.