Guyana and China celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relations, Opposition says countries can take pride in achievements

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27 June 2022 marks the 50th anniversary (the Golden Anniversary) of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

The PNCR and APNU+AFC Coalition join in celebrating this great landmark in the friendship and cooperation between our two nations.

Since the first group of Chinese arrived in Guyana in 1853, generations of Chinese people have considered Guyana their home and have become a rich part of the ethnic tapestry of Guyana. It has always been natural therefore for Guyana to feel a kinship with China.

But, in addition, the then PNC Government recognized that China possesses one of the world’s oldest civilizations and was projected to become an economic super-power and a major force in international relations. The PNC Government therefore concluded that excluding China from the existing international system was both illogical and counterproductive. Mr LFS Burnham, the then leader of the PNC, ensured that this assessment became a cornerstone of Guyana’s foreign policy.

Mr Burnham, along with his party, therefore initiated the process leading to the early recognition of the People’s Republic of China on the 27th of June 1972. This was preceded by Guyana’s vote at the United Nations for Beijing to resume its seat in the United Nations and the establishment of a Trade office in Guyana. Guyana’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China, a communist state, in an international environment characterized by the risks and challenges of the Cold War, qualifies as a bold and prescient act.

Mr Burnham, however, never thought that Guyana’s recognition of China was an end in itself. He accordingly took diplomatic initiatives to persuade the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean to follow Guyana’s lead.

The recognition of the People’s Republic China laid the foundation for the development of bilateral political, economic, and cultural ties. Party to party relations were also initiated. These have progressed apace.

The adherence to common ideals and principles of international relations—including that of multilateralism, the sanctity of treaties, the non-use of force, peaceful coexistence, the right to territorial integrity and sovereignty, the non-interference in the internal affairs of states, among others –has facilitated the political cooperation between Guyana and China. In addition, Guyana and China share the view that the Global South is an essential component of the international system. The countries comprising the Global South ought to be recognized for the positive role they have played in the peaceful development of the planet. Even more, both countries have acknowledged that the protection of the environment must be a national and global imperative.

But it is in the realm of economic relations that the success of the relations between Guyana and China is most visible. We in Guyana will and must always appreciate that during the 1980s, when the country faced steep economic challenges, China without hesitation provided much needed assistance to Guyana.

With modest beginnings in the seventies, the economic exchanges have grown to impressive dimensions. Guyana and China now cooperate over a wide range of economic areas and are involved in major projects which can transform Guyana and benefit China as well. The emergence of Guyana as a petro-state will further catalyze and intensify this trend.

The excellent political and economic relations between Guyana and China do not stand in isolation from our connections in the cultural and educational and military fields, among others. These relations also have expanded and been enriched. The Coalition wishes in particular to highlight the teaching of Mandarin locally. China is already one of the world’s greatest trading nations and its language will assume a corresponding importance.

The narration of China’s relations with Guyana over the last 50 years will not be complete without reference to the high-level visits between the two countries. Mr Burnham himself visited China twice, while exchanges at the level of Foreign Ministers and other senior officials have occurred on a regular basis. These exchanges have accelerated the relations between the two states.

As Guyana and China celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations, they can take pride in what has been achieved. Both countries can be confident also that the foundation has been laid for the further development of constructive and beneficial relations between them.

(OFFICE OF THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION)

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