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Barbados’ ambassador to China: China is like home

(People's Daily Online)    17:05, January 20, 2020

Francois Jackman, Barbados’ ambassador to China, who has lived in China for five years, said he sees a close affinity between China and Barbados, which makes him feel like he is at home.

Francois Jackman, Barbados’ Ambassador to China. (Photo by Fu Yongchao/haiwainet.cn)

Jackman became Barbados’ ambassador to China in 2018. Before that, he served as director of the Confucius Institute at The University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados. Jackman witnessed the establishment and rapid development of this Confucius Institute, and has been a witness to and participant in the cultural exchanges between China and Barbados.

The Confucius Institute was established so quickly at The University of the West Indies at Cave Hill that it surprised him, according to Jackman, who was also amazed by the huge market demand for Chinese teachers and the opportunities to learn Chinese.

The Chinese often say, “Distance cannot separate true friends, who remain close even when thousands of miles apart.” Although China and Barbados have big cultural differences, they have seen wonderful results when those cultures combine.

One of the most typical examples of the interaction between the two cultures is the Fish and Dragon Festival held in Barbados in recent years. The “fish” in the name of the festival refers to the flying fish, a special local fish in Barbados, while the “dragon” refers to China.

As an important part of the celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Fish and Dragon Festival represents the common aspiration of the two countries: building a platform for cultural exchanges and dialogue.

In February 2019, China and Barbados signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), making Barbados the first country to join the international cooperation under the framework of the BRI in 2019.

BRI has deepened and expanded bilateral cooperation between China and Barbados, according to Jackman, who disclosed that the two countries are discussing carrying out cooperation on boosting the connectivity between the two sides in areas including maritime transportation, air transportation, and infrastructure.

In the future, the two countries will enhance bilateral cooperation in such areas as modern agriculture, marine economy, renewable energy sources, culture and sports-themed tourism, medical services, and health, Jackman disclosed.

As Chinese companies come to Barbados and increase investment in the country via BRI, enterprises from Barbados will also enter the Chinese market through such platforms as the Belt and Road and the China International Import Expo, which, according to Jackman, have created opportunities for products and services of Barbados to enter the Chinese market.

Jackman previously served as counselor with the Embassy of Barbados in China. According to Jackman, he has found that every city he visited in China has its own unique characteristics and that many Chinese people have an open mind.

All the Chinese people he knows are friendly, and they want to know more about Barbados and the Caribbean region, said Jackman, adding that this affinity makes him feel like he is at home.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Barbados, the two countries have witnessed rapid development of bilateral relations as well as people-to-people bonds.

Since 2016, China started to send medical teams to Barbados, which marked the first time China sent medical teams to a moderately developed country. During the past four years, Chinese medical teams have provided professional medical services for and donated drugs, and medical apparatus and instruments to the local people. In addition, the teams have also launched a scholarship program to sponsor young doctors from Barbados, encouraging them to pursue further studies in China.

On top of this, bilateral cooperation between the two countries in education has also been constantly strengthened.

In 2016, the Global Institute of Software Technology (GIST) in east China’s Suzhou Province and The University of the West Indies jointly established The China Institute of Information Technology (UWICIIT) in Barbados, aiming to cultivate applied talents in information technology for the Caribbean region.

Under a “2+2” programme model, students in the institute spend the first two years taking part in the courses at UWICIIT and the succeeding two years at GIST in China for major courses and field practice.

Jackman has visited GIST and seen students from the Caribbean region playing football and taking part in games with Chinese students. Studying in China is not an easy thing for these students from the Caribbean region, but they are well received in Suzhou, and through various cultural exchanges, they feel a sense of home in China, said the ambassador happily.

 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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