The diplomatic relationship between China and Grenada which soured somewhat nearly two weeks ago on the Taiwan loan issue is on the amends.
This was stated by both Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and resident Chinese Ambassador Ou Boqian on Tuesday night at a function held to mark the 10th anniversary of the re-establishment of ties between the two countries.
The local Chinese Embassy reportedly took objection to a statement made by PM Mitchell that relations between Grenada and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan has been “normalised” following agreement reached between the two on an outstanding loan deal.
China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and objects to countries that treat Taiwan as an independent nation.
The ties took a further nose dive when Ambassador Ou walked out of the Grenada Trade Center at a media Awards ceremony when Parliamentary Secretary for Information, Senator Winston Garraway was addressing thegathering and praised Taiwan for agreeing to a 50% haircut on the outstanding loan payments.
Prime Minister Mitchel retaliated by scolding the female Chinese diplomat on the question of Grenada’s sovereignty and for there to be mutual respect between the two states.
St. George’s and Beijing re-established diplomatic ties in January 2005 under a former New National Party (NNP) government headed by Dr. Mitchell.
The Grenadian leader decided to fracture the relations with Taiwan after Hurricane Ivan created widespread destruction on the island in September 2004 and in the face of a more lucrative offer from Mainland China which included the rebuilding of the cricket stadium at Queen’s Park and promises to construction thousands of houses for the poor.
Prime Minister Mitchell told reporters at the ceremony on Tuesday night at the Raddison Grand Beach Resort that the two countries have moved passed the squabble that took place in the last two weeks.
“With good friends there are sometimes misunderstandings and clearly that has been corrected. We recognise relationship is bigger than any one incident and therefore we have moved passed this. The Ambassador and myself have had very good discussion on this whole issue and as far as we’re concerned that is over and we are going forward as the relationship dictates,” he said.
Political leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Senator Nazim Burke told reporters that he was pleased with the comments made on the China-Grenada standoff during the celebrations.
“It’s an important milestone for Grenada. As you know the relations were restored 10 years ago and the relationship is building. As far as we can tell, you know there has been a sustained programme of co-operation between the two countries – China has been doing a lot for Grenada. Grenada has benefited significantly as you heard tonight in terms of its relationship and we believe it’s important for Grenada to continue to build on that relationship and not do anything that might compromise that relationship,” he remarked.
In addressing the gathering, Ambassador Ou Boqian said Grenada and China have witnessed comprehensive developments in bilateral relations over the past decade and thanked PM Mitchell for his foresight in re-establishing the ties and his commitment to Grenada.
“The collective effort from all forms of life in both countries has strongly pushed the relationship moving forward smoothly. Thanks to Prime Minister, thanks for your cooperation and encouragement. Your strong sense of historical responsibility to this nation, you and your Government made a strategic decision to establish diplomatic ties with the Peoples Republic of China”, she said to applause.
“…History has proved and continue to prove that this is a wise and brave decision. (The) strong relations and friendship with Chinese leaders and importance that you kept on this relationship since then have always been dynamic (in) pushing the relationship (and) growing from strength to strength,” she added.
Ambassador Ou noted the amount of scholarships offered to Grenadians over the years and the help in other areas of the economy and that China is willing to share opportunities for livelihoods with Grenada.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen who also addressed the Raddison function said the bonds between China and Grenada have grown stronger over the last 10 years.
“On January 20th 2005 when Grenada re-established diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China, we joined with the vast majority of countries around the world which have embraced the “One China” policy and at the same time made a conscious effort to advance
(our) foreign policy aimed at improving the socio-economic (development) of our people”, she said.
“… Ten years later it can be said that the relationship between our two countries have progressed to the extent that the seeds of our collective efforts have already begun to blossom – indeed in many instances they are certainly bearing fruits,” she added.
Minister Modeste-Curwen made specific mention of the cricket and athletic stadia that have benefited from Chinese assistance.
It was disclosed at the function that China and Grenada recently signed an agreement covering $20 million dollars to undertake repair work at the cricket stadium.
There have been reports in recent months that the stadium is showing serious signs of disrepair since it was built by China to facilitate Grenada’s staging of some cricket matches at the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup held in the Caribbean.
One of the major highlights of the night was the display put on for Grenadians by a visiting group of Chinese cultural performers.