China and Venezuela have over the past decade emerged as two of Dominica’s main donor countries.
Earlier this month Dominica News Online looked at the kind of assistance Venezuela has and continues to provide the island through the Roosevelt Skerrit-led Dominica Labour Party administration.
The list included the Petro Caribe contribution, seawall projects (one of which cost $30 million), housing construction through what’s known as the “Housing Revolution”, a $3.9 million police station (Grandbay), sea defence and road works at Melville Hall Airport ($26 million), and water projects.
How does China compare with that? Morne Daniel-based embassy officials have not given figures in terms of the cost of the projects which China has financed here (whether through loans or grants).
But they have pointed to some of the more significant projects.
“China’s assistance to Dominica is carried out through several means, namely, including complete plant project, aid for disaster relief, economic and technical cooperation program, concessionary loans, training courses and seminars for officials and experts, scholarship for students, etc,” a statement from the embassy states.
It says major completed projects include the Windsor Park Stadium, the Roseau to Portsmouth Road Rehabilitation Project – that road’s completion ceremony is scheduled for April 20, the Newtown Town Primary School, and a Housing Project in the Carib territory.
“Furthermore, from 2005 to 2011, China has donated to Dominica for four times, to help Dominica people with the post-disaster reconstruction and improving disaster-combat capacity,” embassy spokesman Yu Zisen told DNO.
He also referred to “9 phases of Chinese specialists in agriculture, stadium maintenance and medical care has been dispatched to Dominica”.
According to Zisen, 180 Dominican officials and experts have been trained or attended seminars in China sponsored by the Chinese Government.
He also confirmed that more than 100 students have won scholarship provided by the Chinese Government to pursue higher education in Chinese universities, something highlighted by Prime Minister Skerrit at a recent news conference.
Zisen also referred to a “framework agreement on concessionary loans of 40 million US dollars” signed in 2009.
According to the Chinese official, Beijing provides more assistance to Dominica than other friendly countries.
The reaction of citizens here to that assistance is clearly something being monitored by the Chinese Embassy.
“It is unreasonable that a few people have been attacking Chinese government and its assistance to Dominica repeatedly, which quite hurt the feeling of Chinese people,” Zisen told DNO.
The Chinese official says however that he is optimistic that with further exchanges between the two countries, “the overwhelming majority will support China-Dominica friendship firmly”.
Zisen also noted local calls for the government to make public the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Dominica and China signed back in 2004 when the two established diplomatic relations.
”Chinese government has been upholding the principle of non-interference with internal affairs of other nations. We have no comment on Dominican internal affairs. We believe Dominican government and its people are able to handle its own business,” he said on that matter.
Prime Minister Skerrit told reporters recently that Cabinet would consider whether or not to make public, the full contents of the MOU.