Huang Xingyuan, Chinese Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, yesterday expressed the view that there was no shame in the protocol shown during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jingping as the President deeply appreciates the warmth and hospitality of the Government and people of T&T.
Speaking to the Express at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in St Clair, Huang took issue over the report in yesterday’s Express with the headline “Poor Protocol”.
“The Daily Express is our favourite, but I’m sorry to say this headline is not,” Huang said.
The report cited the comments of former head of the public service and diplomat Reginald Dumas, who said the protocol lapses during the visit of the Chinese President were embarrassing and worrying.
While Dumas spoke generally about the protocol lapses, which he observed in photos of the three-day visit, he also dealt with lapses of protocol as they pertained to President of Trinidad and Tobago, Anthony Carmona.
However, Huang said in his view the protocol was professional and the Embassy had been in communication with T&T’s Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Ministry prior to the arrival of the Chinese delegation.
He said Xi himself has sent letters of appreciation to President Carmona and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar expressing his appreciation and gratitude.
“Although the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a small country with a small population, its protocol is very professional and at top level in the world,” Huang said.
He said during their visit, the Chinese President and his wife First Lady Peng Liyuan as well as the entire delegation were deeply impressed by the kindness, hospitality, friendship and enthusiasm of the Government and people of this country.
Huang said President Xi asked him to convey special thanks to Carmona and Persad-Bissessar and the people of this country.
“President Xi praised that his successful visit to Trinidad and Tobago should be attributed to considerable detailed and thoughtful arrangements made by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and relevant departments,” Huang said.
He addressed the issue of concerns raised by Dumas about protocol breaches such as the arrival of the Chinese President at the airport and him having to hold his own umbrella to shelter his wife and himself from the rain.
Dumas had also noted that Carmona was walking at the back of the Chinese President and Persad-Bissessar when that should not be as he is the Head of State.
Huang said it was raining that day and therefore the order was a bit off.
He said at a particular point in time a photographer must have captured the photo when Carmona was behind but he stressed that the rainfall affected the order.
Huang said that he himself as well as the chief protocol officer both wanted to have the honour of holding the umbrella but President Xi refused.
“It was our President’s desire to hold the umbrella himself, no matter where, in his domestic visits (in China) or during his visits to foreign countries, it is his Excellency’s desire to hold an umbrella for himself.”
Huang said the people of the Republic of China admire the fact that their President chooses to hold his own umbrella and shelter his wife.
He said according to international custom, the Chinese President and his wife must be the first to appear from the aircraft therefore no third party could have ascended the aircraft and sheltered them with an umbrella as they came off the plane.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, he said, had designated the Ministry’s permanent secretary to coordinate from the Ministry’s end and there was also collaboration with other offices.
“I feel deeply impressed because your country has hosted two very large delegations in just one short week,” Huang said.
“In one word, our President his Excellency Xi Jinping and her Excellency are very fond of your country as well as your people and I do hope that we can keep this wonderful impression forever,” said Huang.