Guyana forges ahead with China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 July 2023, 19:54 by Denis Chabrol

President Dr Irfaan Ali, met with Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China. The meeting took place in Chengdu, capital city of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

Guyana has agreed to go ahead with the next step of China’s physical infrastructure-centered Belt and Road Initiative, according to a joint statement issued by the two countries to mark the end of President Irfaan Ali’s one-week official visit to that Asian giant.

“The Guyana side expressed willingness to discuss and conclude the Joint Action Plan on Promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative with the Chinese side,” the two countries said.

This is in keeping with Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation within the Framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative that was signed by Guyana and China on July 27, 2018 under the previous A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration.

At the signing of that MoU five years ago, Guyana had expressed an interest in joining Brazil in tapping into China’s US$50 billion for Latin America and the Caribbean to construct the Linden-to Lethem Road. Part of that road (Linden-to-Mabura) is being funded by the British government..

Without referring to the Belt and Road Initiative, the joint statement issued on Sunday opened the door for China’s resources to be made available for Guyana’s infrastructural development. “Recognizing the positive role of infrastructure development in generating economic growth and alleviating poverty, both sides agreed to expand collaboration in this area. Both sides agreed to investigate the prospects for collaboration in the development and construction of critical infrastructure projects, leveraging China’s experience, expertise and finance capacity,” China and Guyana said.

The joint statement says the Chinese and Guyanese delegations discussed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and expressed the firm conviction that greater international mobilization was critical for bridging the economic divide between developed and developing countries, strengthening developing countries’ capacity to respond to shocks, and for reducing the incidence of poverty in the developing world.

China and Guyana also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of an investment and economic cooperation working group.

The two countries also agreed to explore the possibility of expanding trade in a variety of industries, including agriculture, energy, mining, manufacturing, encouraged their business communities to take greater advantage of investment opportunities and forge partnerships, pledged to deepen cooperation on forest conservation, biodiversity conservation, and the promotion of renewable energy as well as expand cultural and educational collaboration and foster collaboration between educational institutions, promote student exchange programs, and support cultural activities.

According to the joint statement, Guyana and China will work to improve food security, and they also agreed to expand their collaboration in the field of health by exchanging best practices and skills.

Recognizing the global challenges posed by climate change, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to continuing their advocacy at the global level for combating climate change and promoting sustainable, China and Guyana committed to expand cooperation in renewable energy, climate resilience and adaptation.

The statement says the Guyanese side reiterated Guyana’s firm support for the one-China principle.

Back in 2021, the United States embassy here had welcomed Guyana’s now aborted decision to allow Taiwan, regarded as a break-away province from mainland China,  to open a trade and investment office here. Though Guyana had reaffirmed its commitment to the One China policy, China’s diplomatic machinery went into full gear and Georgetown backed off from allowing Taipei to set up shop here.