On Wednesday morning Dominica signed a number of documents with the People’s Republic of China for economic cooperation and military aid.
Also at the ceremony, letters were exchanged for the seventh phase of the agricultural technical cooperation between the two countries.
Cabinet Secretary, Steve Ferrol, said the ceremony represented the spirit that binds Dominica-China relations.
“The ceremony represents positive action to assist a friend in need and reflects the spirit that binds Dominica-China relations,” he stated. “A spirit that has been the cornerstone of our bilateral relations for more than a decade.”
Ambassador of China to Dominica Lu Kun described the signing ceremony as “momentous.”
“The signing of this agreements is not only a reflection of the valuable China-Dominica friendship but also a symbol of China’s quick and strong support to the recovery and the rebuilding efforts of Dominica after the ravages of Hurricane Maria,” he stated.
Kun stated that China and the people of China empathize with the people of Dominica after the hurricane.
“We stand together more closely in face of this natural disaster,” he said. “We provided emergency humanitarian relief cash aid of US$800,000 to the Dominica government. Furthermore, China has offered a grant of US$3-million through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement a roof restoration project in Dominica.”
He reported that the material for that project is “under procurement” by the UNDP and is expected in Dominica by next month.
“We hope the project will start soon and be completed within three months,” Kun noted.
He stated that the new agreements will “open a new page” for China-Dominica relations.
According to the ambassador, under the agreement China will provide about US$14-million to implement post-Maria rebuilding projects, especially in the area of public infrastructure.
“We are looking forward to receiving the project proposal from the Dominica government,” he explained
Additionally, he said the Defense Ministry of China will provide Dominica with “logistic material assistance” to the value of about US$3-million, “to strengthen Dominica’s rebuilding capacity.”
Furthermore, Kun said China will send agricultural experts to implement the Seventh Agricultural Technical Cooperation “as soon as possible”, stating that this will help Dominica revitalize its agricultural industry.
Meanwhile Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit said China continues to show its firm friendship with Dominica in its most difficult circumstances.
The prime Minister remarked that Dominica continues to respect international law and respect that there is one China “as a matter of principle.”
“So rest assured of my government continued support to the One China Policy and doing all we can for the peaceful unification of the whole of China,” he stated.
Skerrit said within hours of Hurricane Maria, Dominica heard from the leadership of China expressing concern, care, and commitment to the island.
He pointed out the agreements signed on Wednesday involved some $EC50-million in agriculture “and other areas which the government of Dominica will determine.”
“I want to say to the general public that as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, I have taken a decision ….that entire amount will go towards education, towards the construction of smart climate resilient schools for our citizens and our students,” Skerrit stated.
He noted that he has given the Ministry of Education eight days from Wednesday to submit proposals for the schools to be considered which will be forwarded to the Chinese embassy and government.
“We believe that investment, your Excellency, will no doubt fit within the vision that the government has articulated in respect to creating the first climate resilient nation in the world,” he remarked.
Skerrit said in terms of the US$3-million in military support, both Dominica and China will determine specifically how those funds will be utilized.
“They were discussed in the cabinet on particular areas which we will share with the government of China,” he stated.