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The China representative at the Eight CELAC Summit in Buccament Bay on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Photo: Lance Neverson/Facebook)
The China representative at the Eight CELAC Summit in Buccament Bay on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Photo: Lance Neverson/Facebook)
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves held a bilateral breakfast meeting with the People’s Republic of China representative at the Eight Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit held here on Friday.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines invited China to the summit although Kingstown and Beijing do not have diplomatic relations.

SVG is an ally of the Republic of China (Taiwan), which China regards as a breakaway province and has not ruled out the use of force in its reunification ambitions.

Kingstown invited a number of countries and regional, hemispheric and international organisations to join the 33 CELAC members states at the summit.

Gonsalves did not identify the China representative by name, but said the envoy requested a bilateral meeting with him in his capacity as pro tempore president of CELAC.

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“I had a breakfast meeting at the Official Residence of the Prime Minister. I didn’t hold the bilateral at the Office of the Prime Minister. We do not have diplomatic relations but we have good relations,” Gonsalves said. 

“As I say, we work with the Mainland Chinese in the CDB (Caribbean Development Bank), in the World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund), in the Group of 77,” the prime minister further stated.

“We worked at the United Nations when we were on the Security Council. We worked with them because they’re a permanent member. And we respectfully disagree on some things because, as I repeatedly said, we will have relations with them if they do not make the demand that we break our relations with our allies, the Republic of China on Taiwan.”

Gonsalves said he and the China representative “had a very good discussion on a wide range of issues.

“I think people in St. Vincent and Grenadines will see the sophisticated manner in which we conduct our foreign policy but at the same time, very principled,” he said.

“You have heard me speak all the time how, I admire the Chinese civilisation. A fracture took place in 1949, politically,” he said, referring to the civil war that brought the communist to power and forced the nationalist to retreat to Taiwan.

“And they will solve that problem among themselves. I told him that what I’m interested in is peace across the Taiwan Straits.”

Gonsalves said he and the Chinese representative also talked “about CELAC matters”.

He, however, noted that people might ask why he invited China to the summit even as SVG has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. 

“Well, my constituency in CELAC, there are 33 member states. Twenty-six have diplomatic relations with mainland China and they had always been invited. I can’t now put our national policy in relation to Taiwan above them.

“In any event, the Secretary General of the United Nations (Antonio Guterres) probably would have [had] to consider if I had not invited a member of the United Nations which traditionally had been invited to these events,” he said, of the UN chief, who attended the summit in person and spoke during the opening ceremony.

“Yet the daughter of the Taiwanese ambassador here was one of the young dancers in the dance group at the reception, dancing like a Vincy girl, a teenager who is here,” Gonsalves said.

“So, you note the manner in which we do our business.

“And you can’t complain. And when we explain everything as it happens. We do so honestly, truthfully, respectfully to everyone. But we have our traditional links with the Republic of China, Taiwan, which have been fruitful,” the prime minister said.

One reply on “Gonsalves holds breakfast talks with China rep on sidelines of CELAC summit”

  1. nancysauldemers says:

    One might wonder what China was doing at a meeting for ” Latin American and Caribbean States.” My sense of world geography suggests there is more in the mortar than the pestle, whether or not any member of CELAC has diplomatic relations with China, “good relations” with China or no relations at all with China. Why they might have traditionally been invited to these meetings is a quandary for another time.

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