Senator Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, receives medical supplies which were donated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China from Ambassador Fang Qiu, on behalf of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. (Image courtesy Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs)

Trinidad and Tobago’s fight against COVID-19 is once again benefitting from the generosity of China following a recent donation of medical supplies, inclusive of hundreds of thousands of gloves and syringes, on Thursday 9th December 2021.

An official statement from the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs reports that the donation from the Government of the People’s Republic of China, which is valued at approximately US$75,000 (RMB 500,000), comprised 170,000 gloves and 170,000 syringes.  The Ministry explained it is “the materialisation of an offer made by the Government of the People’s Republic of China in December 2020 at a Special Meeting on COVID-19 in the context of China-Caribbean Consultations.”

These latest medical supplies donated by China will be used in T&T’s parallel healthcare system to treat COVID-19 patients and contribute to the mitigation of the spread of the virus.  They come in the wake of China’s donation of hundreds of thousands of doses of its WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine, Sinopharm, to this country alone over the past year.

Senator Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs and His Excellency Fang Qiu, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, sign the Handover Certificate for the donation of medical supplies. (Image courtesy Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs)

During the brief Handover Ceremony for the medical equipment, Dr Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, noted the generosity of those donations, at a time when vaccines were not available to the country.  He also pointed to a more recent, sizable donation of medical supplies in October 2021.

“These are a testament to the strength of the bilateral relationship between the Trinidad and Tobago and China,” the Minister said, as he thanked His Excellency Fang Qiu, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China for the December donation.

Ambassador Fang stated that the COVID-19 pandemic still posed a challenge, particularly in light of new surges of infection occurring around the world.

Expressing the view that cooperation was required to combat the pandemic, the Ambassador noted that this was the approach taken by Trinidad and Tobago and China.

In addition to handover of medical supplies by Ambassador Fang to Minister Browne and the signing of the hand-over certificates, both men discussed the status of relations between their countries and possible strategies for cooperation in the post COVID-19 era.

Senator Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs and His Excellency Fang Qiu, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, discuss bilateral relations prior to the Handover Ceremony of donated medical supplies. (Image courtesy Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs)

The Ministry’s statement says both parties agreed that there is potential for further cooperation between Trinidad and Tobago and China in fields of interest and importance to both countries, with the Ministry giving a commitment to follow up on the matters discussed with the relevant Government ministries.

Ambassador Fang emphasised China’s interest in strengthening cooperation with the Caribbean in the post-COVID-19 era and, in this regard, referred to the establishment of the China-Caribbean Development Centre.

Areas of priority identified by the Chinese Ambassador include poverty alleviation; food security; COVID-19; financing for development; climate change and the green economy; industrialisation; and digital economy and connectivity.  He also referred to the Global Development Initiative, pointing out that it falls well within Trinidad and Tobago’s National Development Strategy 2016-2030 (Vision 2030), including this country’s digital transformation goals.