A number of government and Chinese officials and Media personnel convened at the Radisson Hotel Crown Ball Room last week Tuesday night to bid farewell to one of the most vibrant and charismatic ambassador posted to St. George’s by Mainland China.
The occasion was to mark the end of the four-year term of duty of Ambassador Ou Boqian following the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 2005.
Two of the most significant things achieved under the Ambassador watch were the construction of the Grenada Athletics and Football Stadium, now called the Kirani James Stadium and the Low Income houses at Mt. Gay, Soubise, and Frequente.
The period was also noted for the establishment of the Confucius Classroom at the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) that will be used to help break the language barrier between Grenada and China.
Students and teachers of TAMCC were also afforded the opportunity to visit and train in China.
In remarks delivered at the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Elvin Nimrod stated that there was now heightened relations between Grenada and China as a result of the outgoing Ambassador.
“Some of it is evident through the heightened technical cooperation programmes, the interest in people-to-people exchanges, the enhanced collaboration in the international community, the mutual respect and understanding between our two countries”, he said.
“Ambassador, let me take this opportunity on behalf of the Government and People of Grenada to extend our deepest gratitude to you, and your government – Grenada stands ready to work (with) the new ambassador, and of course with the Government and People of China as we continue to adhere to the One China Policy”, he added.
In response, Ambassador Ou indicated that she was rather reluctant to say goodbye to Grenada, recalling that four years ago she came to Grenada with anxiety and uncertainty, and is now leaving as a family member with warmth, and gratitude.
She said that over the years, she was happy to see the type of people-to-people relationship that developed between the two countries and it was blossoming.
The female Chinese ambassador said thank you to all those who helped to make her job in Grenada an easy one.
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has contributed to the friendship of our two countries, to everyone who has supported me in my capacity as ambassador,” she remarked.
Over the years, several media workers were able to visit China and in some cases engaged in periods of study.
Ambassador Ou singled out the media for praise and promoting China.
“To my friends from (the) media, you have presented China to Grenada in a very objective way. You have covered China/Grenada relations in a very conducive way; you have treated me in a very friendly way,” she said.
When the Ambassador touched down on the island four years ago, she gave an undertaking to do what is necessary to become Grenadian and according to her, she did become Grenadian.
“…I kept my promise…I have tried not only Callaloo Soup but Oil Down. My colleagues in the embassy and I, we together conquered Mt Qua Qua and Mt. St. Catherine. We swam from St. George’s Harbour to Grand Anse Bay. We did hiking on Lake Antoine. We have been to every parish in Grenada…I am proud to say …I am Grenadian,” she said.
Ambassador Ou who left the island last week Thursday, said she hoped that the same courtesies given to her will be extended to her successor, who is due to take up duties in St. George’s in June.
The 2003-08 New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell decided to dump Taiwan for China in the face of a more lucrative offer from Beijing after Hurricane Ivan devastated the island in 2004.
China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has been pursuing on the international scene a “one-China policy” with the government in Beijing to be recognised as the defacto representative of the Chinese people.