As Leader of the Opposition and Political Leader of the United National Congress of Trinidad and Tobago, I would like to say Xin nian kuai le and Gong hei fat choy as I offer sincere wishes of prosperity, success and goodwill to His Excellency President Xi Jinping and the people of China on the occasion of the start of the Chinese New Year.
Designated as the Year of the Rat, this year is quite special as the rat in Chinese culture symbolizes wealth, intelligence, success and wisdom, which are qualities that can be used to describe China’s significant contribution to the world stage.
The people of China and Trinidad and Tobago have shared deep and meaningful ties for hundreds of years and despite the distance between both nations, our bond remains strong. A quick glance down any street and you will notice the well-established presence of the Chinese community within Trinidad and Tobago.
China’s development into a world leader in trade, innovation, manufacturing, and technology has been driven by its ability to nurture the intelligent potential of its human capital, create best practices for success and pass on wisdom to ensure longevity in development. In essence, the perseverance, dedication, patriotism and spirit to achieve of the Chinese people which has propelled the People’s Republic of China into a World Leader, serve as an inspiration to us all.
The success of the Chinese people on the world stage has not been limited to China as we have seen members of the Chinese diaspora work to build other economies, social systems and enhance human development in other nations throughout the world.
The Chinese presence in Trinidad and Tobago has been of mutual benefit and is a presence we look forward to continuing as we journey into this New Year. We have seen the fruits of our prosperous relationship manifested in multiple cultural exchanges, official state visits, increased trade and investment and government to government agreements for various activities including construction projects.
To the Chinese leadership under the steady hand of His Excellency President Xi Jinping, we thank you for your commitment and long-standing support in overcoming the challenges that we face as a developing nation.
This year will mark forty-five years since we first established official diplomatic relations with each other beginning with the Chinese Embassy in Port of Spain. I knew that our relationship would only get closer over time and as a result, I saw it fit to establish our own presence in China with the opening of the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in February 2014 while I was Prime Minister.
The first Chinese presence in Trinidad and Tobago began in 1806 with the arrival of the ship Fortitude carrying a group of Chinese immigrants recruited in Macau, Penang, and Calcutta. The descendants of these immigrants have excelled in every sector including Politics and Government, Arts, Science, Business, Education and Sports and helped shaped Trinidad and Tobago into the nation as we know it today.
In addition to this, the constant support from China will always be valued and appreciated by the people of Trinidad and Tobago and even more so as we journey into the new decade together.
I am aware of the current coronavirus outbreak in the city of Wuhan and the challenges which have resulted. Rest assured that our prayers are with you and your people during this time.
I look forward to continued excellent relationships between both of our nations, our people, and to continue to build on this sound relationship.
On behalf of my party, I reaffirm my commitment to the leadership and people of China, that we here in Trinidad and Tobago remain strong friends in our quest to achieving a better nation and a better world for our future generations.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Political Leader of the United National Congress
25th January, 2020