Former cane farmers call for compensation
By JULIEN NEAVES Thursday, October 24 2013
CHINESE philosopher Confucious once said that it is a great pleasure when you have friends coming from afar.
A delegation of officials who travelled from China to Trinidad and Tobago were treated to Chinese-themed dance and song as they attended the official launch of the Confucious Institute at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine Campus, representing deepening ties between the two countries.
The Memorandum of Agreement for the institute was signed during the State visit last June by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first Chinese head of State to visit the English-speaking Caribbean.
UWI principal, Professor Clement Sankat, told the gathering yesterday that the visit and agreement had set the stage for a deepening of bilateral relations between Trinidad and Tobago and China, in areas such as trade and investment, energy, infrastructural development, technical cooperation, cultural engagement, and educational exchange.
“The establishment of the Confucius Institute will truly facilitate this effort, and it is a proud moment, not only here for us at UWI St Augustine Campus, but moreso for the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the region,” he said. He noted that through the institute, the relationship with China will be strengthened by making the teaching of Chinese available to corporate and private citizens, deepening of understanding of Chinese culture, including in business and trade.
“These are the new things that can take us forward,” he said. He expressed hope that the institute will grow and become the focal point for matters relating between TT, UWI, and China, for growth and development. The institute will be housed at the Institute of Critical Thinking. Sankat expressed hope that the visit by the contingent from the Chinese Agriculture University will open up area of collaboration between the two universities, especially in the areas of food.
He said part of the 2012-2017 strategic plan for the university was to make it more of an international institution. He noted that the purpose of the institute is to promote Chinese language and culture in countries around the globe. UWI St Augustine, it was noted, was the second to host them in the English-speaking Caribbean, after UWI Mona Campus.
He thanked the Chinese Ambassador for his “steadfast support” with the institute, and for other initiatives, noting that their “Chinese friends” had agreed to build the new UWI South Campus in Debe.
Chinese Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Huang Xingyuan, speaking via a translator, said it was a historical and joyful moment, and congratulated UWI on its “excellent work”. He noted that Confucious was a great thinker, teacher and philosopher, and a symbol of Chinese culture. He said the joint effort between the two governments have been “unprecedentedly intensified” in the fields of culture, politics, economy, and education.
President of China Agricultural University KE Bingsheng said the institute was one of the most important results of the President Xi’s visit. He did not expect it to be done so rapidly, it was launched within four months of the signing of the agreement, and that was likely a record for the institute. He said the establishment of the institute was not only a platform for mutual understanding, but will also play a big role in economic cooperation, and was a good opportunity for educational and research collaboration.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran in his feature address noted that the institute afforded both TT and the Caribbean, a new platform of an intellectual nature. He said the cultural interaction between the two countries will be given an opportunity to flourish, noting Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s promise to have a Caribbean music festival in Beijing at some point.
Dookeran also took the opportunity to announce a decision by regional governments to establish a Caribbean Diplomatic Centre for Global Affairs on the UWI St Augustine Campus.