The President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, due to arrive in Trinidad and Tobago tonight, is scheduled to have a series of bilateral meetings with Caribbean Community government leaders whose countries have diplomatic relations with Beijing.
At least eight heads of government, including host Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar are expected to be engaged in separate meetings with Xi on a variety of issues including Chinese trade, economic investment and cultural relations in their respective countries.
This means the absence of a quartet of Caricom prime ministers whose governments continue to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, deemed by Beijing as a “renegade province” of China.
They would be the prime ministers of Belize (Dean Barrow), St Vincent and the Grenadines (Dr. Ralph Gonsalves), St Lucia (Dr. Kenny Anthony) and St Kitts and Nevis (Dr. Denzil Douglas).
Unlike the just-ended official visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Trinidad and Tobago, the Caricom secretariat is not involved in arrangements for the bilateral meetings in Port of Spain.
And the official word is that while the host government of Trinidad and Tobago is appreciative of the official visit by the Chinese leader, the “prevailing protocol” is that its head of state does not engage in meetings on overseas visits to countries that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
While no official statement has been released, heads of government expected in Port of Spain for the scheduled meetings with the Chinese leader are likely to include the presidents of Guyana (Donald Ramotar) and Suriname (Desi Bouterse), as well as the prime ministers of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller; Barbados (Freundel Stuart); Grenada (Dr Keith Mitchell); Antigua and Barbuda (Baldwin Spencer) and Dominica’s Roosevelt Skerrit.
Expanded trade and economic development investment in the Caribbean region by China will be a major focus of the meeting between Xi and Persad-Bissessar.
China, which is a donor member of the Caribbean Development Bank, is said to be keen in encouraging support for this region’s involvement in plans by the BRIC bloc of countries for establishment of a new financial institution to boost economic development outside of the roles being played by, for instance, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund .
The BRIC countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. And it’s viewed as significant that the Chinese president’s visit to Trinidad and Tobago follows those to South Africa and Brazil and will extend to Costa Rica and Mexico before moving on to the United States for a two-day (June 7 and 8) visit, primarily for an informal summit with President Barack Obama.