ABCF President's Report, January 2021 to June 2022

The Association for Barbados-China Friendship has ramped up its activities steadily in the second and third years of its existence. Both in 2021 and 2022 we opened the year with participation in the Fish and Dragon Festival, which was presented virtually in both years. In 2021 our contribution was a short address by your President, in which I introduced our association, and invited the audience to visit our website and to write to us. We were more ambitious in 2022, contributing a culinary segment featuring chef and blogger Jonathon Cho Fook Lun and hosted by ABCF Committee member Christopher Lee. Jonathon prepared a Chinese bao (bun), which is traditionally filled with pork and steamed, but, in keeping with Barbadian cultural preference, the bun was fried, and the filling chosen was Barbadian Black Belly lamb. The videos of the Fish & Dragon Festivals  2021 and  2022 may be viewed on the Central Bank of Barbados’ Youtube channel. 

On February 15, 2021, the ABCF hosted a virtual conference "Connect the Caribbean, a China-Caribbean People to People Exchange", organised by the Global Shapers Community Beijing and moderated by the ABCF's Christopher Lee and Adrian Thomas of the Global Shaper Beijing Hub. Speakers included Ms Diamond Joseph, Director of the Confucius Institute of Antigua-Barbuda, Ms Philomena Lee of the Chinese Association of Barbados, Ms Yixuan Heather Li, founder of The Dot Connector, and yours truly.

On March 29, 2021, members of the ABCF participated in an online forum for Caribbean associations for friendship with China, hosted by President Lin Songtian of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. Other associations joining the conversation were from the Antigua-Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica and Suriname. After a welcome address by President Lin, each association made a short presentation on their history and activities. This was followed by presentations on tourism in Antigua-Barbuda, Beijing, Jamaica and Hangzhou. The participants concluded the meeting with agreement on a joint initiative on Covid-19, tourism, climate change and exchange visits. 

The virtual celebration of the second anniversary of the foundation of the ABCF took place on Dragon Boat Day, June 14, 2021. It featured a discussion forum on "Cultural consciousness within the Sino-Caribbean context”, focussed on the concerns of young people. The panelists were Ms TAO Guoxia, Co-director of the Confucius Institute of Antigua-Barbuda, and Rasheed Griffith and Christopher Lee, both members of the ABCF Committee. The meeting received greetings from the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), Ambassador YAN, ambassador of the PRC in Barbados, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, and the China-Grenada Friendship Association. 

The ABCF's third anniversary was also celebrated virtually, on May 25, 2022, jointly with the celebration of the 45th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Barbados and the PRC. There were four sessions during this event. Simone Rudder, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and David Commissiong, Barbados' ambassador to the Caribbean Community, Caricom, reviewed achievements during the 45-year period. Ambassador Yan and Hallam Henry, Barbados' ambassador to the PRC, spoke on bilateral cooperation under the framework of the Global Development Initiative, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2021. Dr Chelston Brathwaite, Vice-president of the ABCF, made proposals on business cooperation with China, while Professor Winston Moore, Vice-principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, spoke of academic cooperation initiatives with Chinese institutions. The final session featured greetings from the CPAFFC and remarks by myself. 

The third issue of the ABCF magazine, published online in June 2021, featured articles by François Jackman, then Barbados' ambassador to the PRC, on initial responses to the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020; observations of Barbadian-born Rhiannon Johnson, who relocated to Hangzhou in China early in 2020; the rural tourism boom in China, fuelled by Chinese city dwellers; Christopher Lee's reflections on how Chinese restaurants in Barbados have responded to local cultural preferences; David Bulbulia's comments on his new Chinese-made battery electric car; TAO Guoxia's observations on changing attitudes of youth in China and the Caribbean; a survey of Chinese culture among immigrant communities in the Caribbean by Helen Zamor; a short history of the Guyana-China Friendship Society by Anyin Choo; and Dr Chelston Brathwaite's reflections on China's modernisation, a chapter from his recently-published book, Memories of China, which was reproduced with his permission. 

The Association's website, ABCF-BB.COM, is constantly being enriched with news, commentary and useful information on China, Chinese affairs and the lives of Chinese people. New items are added almost every week, including a miscellany of articles and videos from informed sources worldwide. Many of these sources are within China, and items translated from Chinese sources and Chinese social media offer unique perspectives of the world as the Chinese people see it. All three issues of the Exchanges magazine may be found on the website, as well as reports and video of ABCF events, the Fish and Dragon Festivals, and events hosted by the Confucius Institutes and our sister institutions in Barbados. Confucius Institute lectures are also posted to the site. 

The ABCF is currently embarked on two exciting new activities in collaboration with institutions in China. Thanks to an initiative by TAO Guoxia, of the Zhejiang International Studies University (ZISU) in Hangzhou, two groups of young people, from ZISU and the ABCF, are organising a series of forums for the interchange of ideas between Chinese and Barbadian youth. The programme, which has been endorsed by ZISU and incorporated into that university's curriculum, was launched in October 2022, with a panel discussion on “The importance of university degrees for entering the workforce”. A report on the forum will appear in a forthcoming issue of Exchanges magazine. 

The second collaboration is an initiative from the Zibo People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (ZBPAFFC) and the municipal government of Zibo City, Shandong Province, China, which reached out to the ABCF through the kind offices of the embassy of the PRC in Barbados. The relationship was launched at a virtual meeting on July 20, 2022, which featured addresses by Ms LI Yinping of the ZBPAFFC; Mr HUANG Xinhua, Charge d'affairs of the embassy of the PRC in Barbados; Mr LIN Haibin, of the Shandong Provincial Foreign Affairs Office; Anthony Branker, of the Barbados Chamber of Industry and Commerce; Mr YU Shuansheng of the Zibo Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau; Mr YU Honghua, of the Shandong University of Technology; Professor Winston Moore, and myself. At the end of the meeting Ms Li and I signed a Memorandum of Understanding for exchanges between our two organisations. 

As President of ABCF, I was invited to write a commentary on poverty reduction in China which was published in China Daily on October 13, 2022, with the heading “For better lives”. I also presented a paper entitled “China’s economic impact in the Caribbean” and the 12th Youth Forum on Latin American Studies, which was convened in hybrid form at ZISU in Hangzhou on October 29, 2022. Dr Chelston Brathwaite, Vice-president of the ABCF, attended ceremonies for the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the PRC and Jamaica in Kinston, Jamaica in October, and brought greetings from our association. He also presented copies of his book Memories of China to a representative of the embassy of the PRC in Jamaica.

The ABCF is grateful for the support we have received from the embassy of the PRC in Barbados. With their help we have been able to recruit the services of a part-time Administrative Officer, Sarah Grant, which whose help we have been able to step up the Association's activities and improve our record-keeping. The embassy has also assisted with the hosting of the ABCF website, the services of our invaluable webmaster, Simeon WuKwai, and the outstanding design services of Media Support International. The embassy’s subvention has also covered the legal costs associated with the incorporation of the ABCF, and other services on our behalf by Floyd H Phillips, Attorneys. On behalf of my colleagues on the Executive Committee of our Association, I thank them all. Finally thanks to all my colleagues on the Executive Committee, who have joined me in sustaining the association’s activities in these difficult times.

R. DeLisle Worrell, Ph D

November 29, 2022