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PM to visit China next week

By Kim Boodram

FOR the first time in 30 years a Trinidad and Tobago Head of Government will set foot in China when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, during a visit that starts next week, opens T&T’s first embassy in that country.
Persad-Bissessar was invited to China last year when she hosted a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first such visit by a Chinese president to the English-speaking Caribbean.
Persad-Bissessar said yesterday her visit took some time to arrange so the schedules of all parties concerned could be accommodating and, aside from the business at hand, she was hoping to see some of China’s famous spring cherry blossoms.
The PM was visited yesterday by Chinese Ambassador Huang Xing Yuan, at the Parliament Building on the Port of Spain Waterfront, to finalise some aspects of the upcoming trip to The People’s Republic of China, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries.
Persad-Bissessar said some of the discussions to be held abroad will include the possibility of a Chinese-built hotel in Tobago, or the expansion of the Magdalena Grande, also by the Chinese, to boost tourist accommodation.
Speaking to the media following the visit and in the presence of Huang, the PM disclosed there will be talks on national security, as T&T might look to China for guidance in fine-tuning the National Operations Centre (NOC) and other security tools.
She said a Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force team visited China recently to look at shipyards and dry-dock facilities.
The Prime Minister’s mission will run from February 23-28 and the new embassy will be set up in Beijing.
Earlier yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, speaking in Parliament, said Persad-Bissesar’s visit comes at a time when there is “a new wave of leadership in China”.
He said during the visit the PM will also interact with “leading trade and investment officials” and, in so doing, be able to consider what opportunities exist and how they can further deepen trade ties.
The agreements proposed to be signed are a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the General Administration of Sport of China and the Ministry of Sport of Trinidad and Tobago; an MOU between the governments concerning co-operation in energy and related matters; a bilateral air services agreement; and the protocol concerning the posting of a Chinese medical team in T&T.
Trinidad and Tobago will also take a leading role in assisting China’s quest to strengthen its relationship with the Caribbean and Latin America.
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