The following are remarks given by Bahamas Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Senator the Hon Allyson Maynard-Gibson in China:
Assistant Minister Zhang, other senior Chinese officials,
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour and a privilege to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas with you here in Beijing.
I bring greetings to my fellow Bahamians and all friends of The Bahamas here this evening from our Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Perry G. Christie, the government and people of The Bahamas. Tonight we gather to celebrate our nation. Though we are small, we Bahamians are united in one goal… to make our country the best in the world, so that we can truly say “Its Better in The Bahamas”.
I am so pleased that this evening we can share with you the Exhibition Celebrating 40 Years of Bahamian Independence and Expression. Colina Insurance Limited, one of the major insurance companies in The Bahamas partnered with Bahamian artists to give a visual representation of some of our colourful Bahamian sayings. I hope you enjoy these works as much as we have in The Bahamas. I wish to thank Colina and the artists for allowing us to have this display. The Bahamas and China have in the past had many cultural exchanges. We are grateful for these opportunities to deepen and enrich our citizens’ understanding of each other’s culture.
We also have the pleasure this evening of enjoying the music of one of our talented Bahamian musicians, Ms Pamela Woods.
This year marks the 40th Anniversary of Independence for The Bahamas and the 16th anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic relations between The Bahamas and the Peoples Republic of China. My presence here today for this event is symbolic of the importance The Bahamas government places on our friendship between our countries and our people. This friendship is based on the principles of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and common development. We are good partners and support each other in the pursuit of common prosperity.
The theme of the 40th Anniversary celebration is “A Bridge to the Future …The Journey Continues.” As the Prime Minister said in his Independence address to the Nation, “this anniversary therefor is not simply the celebration of a seminal event in Bahamian history. Indeed it is not a single event nor a single day that we celebrate. Rather, the enduring significance of July 10th is that it summons us each year to come together in unity to find common cause and purpose as we renew our collective determination to make The Bahamas the best little country on earth.”
The Government of The Bahamas and the people of The Bahamas are deeply appreciative to the Chinese Government and the Chinese people for China’s support for small island states like The Bahamas and developing nations in international fora. In 2012 on China’s National Day, I was present and one of the people together with the Right Honourable Prime Minister and other Ministers who cut the ribbon, when the new Chinese Embassy complex was opened in The Bahamas. Our Prime Minister warmly welcomed the opening of the new Chinese Embassy Complex as a statement of strong, enduring friendship.
We also appreciate the assistance China has given and continues to give and continues to make available to The Bahamas. Over the past 16 years, six major cooperation programmes have been completed, including the world class national stadium which was used most successfully earlier this year for the Caribbean regional games. Several other projects are on-going. Some are about to start as a result of the increased assistance from China negotiated by our Prime Minister in his recent meeting with President Xi Jinping during their recent meeting in Trinidad. Perhaps, the most significant indication of China’s confidence in The Bahamas is the Bahamar project – a partnership between Bahamar Resorts Limited and China Construction America, with loans of $2.4 billion from the Exim Bank of China, to create a world class billion dollar touristic resort on Cable Beach in New Providence.
This evening we have a display of this world class resort to give you a preview of many amenities which will be available when Bahamar opens in 2014. I wish to thank Bahamar for enabling our pianist, Ms. Woods, to be here with us this evening.
I also wish to highlight the cultural exchanges that continue to deepen understanding and friendship between our countries.
As The Bahamas continues our national development journey and builds further on the foundation of our friendship, we note the indication last year given by our Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Tourism that we are pursuing negotiations whereby under agreed circumstances, Chinese persons will be able to come to The Bahamas, obtaining a Visa upon arrival. By this time next year we hope that Visa arrangements are in place and that regular scheduled flights will be flying to The Bahamas from major Chinese cities. We also hope that we shall see many more Chinese companies investing in The Bahamas, to the mutual benefit of China and The Bahamas.
In closing I ask you to join me as I propose a toast to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and to the People’s Republic of China. Long may our friendship grow and flourish.