Published: 10:18, April 13, 2024
China, Suriname to boost relations
By Xu Wei
Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 12, 2024. (FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY)

BEIJING – President Xi Jinping and visiting Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi made joint pledges on Friday to foster an even closer bilateral strategic partnership. The two leaders agreed to expand cooperation on investment, green development, education, and the digital economy.

Xi rolled out the red carpet for Santokhi, who is making a week-long state visit to China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in a pomp-filled ceremony that included a guard of honor and a 21-gun salute.

"China is willing to work with Suriname to further consolidate political mutual trust, strengthen economic and trade cooperation, expand people-to-people exchanges, enhance international collaboration, and promote the healthy and stable development of China-Suriname relations," Xi told his guest.

The two heads of state also witnessed the signing of a series of cooperation documents. Xi underlined Beijing's readiness to welcome the import of more high-quality products from Suriname.

He told his guest that the nation stands ready to deepen cooperation with Suriname on jointly building the Belt and Road and expand cooperation in areas such as agriculture, energy, and mining.

He noted that Suriname is one of the countries in the Caribbean with the largest overseas Chinese community and is the first in the Western Hemisphere to designate the Chinese Spring Festival as an official holiday.

Both sides should continue to encourage cultural exchanges, facilitate people-to-people exchanges and jointly develop Confucius Institutes, Xi said.

He also highlighted the need to bolster subnational cooperation to keep enriching bilateral exchanges and cooperation.

China stands ready to work with developing nations like Suriname to strengthen multilateral coordination, solidarity, and cooperation, safeguard common interests, and achieve common development, the president added.

President Xi Jinping and Suriname President Chandrikapersad Santokhi witness the signing of bilateral cooperation documents on economy, trade, investment, green development, digital economy, education, and other fields after their talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, April 12, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Xi reiterated China's emphasis on developing ties with Caribbean countries, saying that the nation supports countries in the region in seeking prosperity and development and enhancing public wellbeing, and it makes continuous steps to offer aid to the best of its capacity.

Santokhi, who is visiting China for the first time since taking office in 2020, lauded the major significance of the initiatives proposed by the Chinese president on upholding multilateralism and promoting global peace and sustainable development.

"Our talks today are also important first steps in solidifying the strategic cooperative partnership and identifying new areas of cooperation," Santokhi told his host.

He stressed readiness to further enhance exchanges between political parties from both countries, and expand cooperation in areas including investment, green development, and the response to climate change.

Santokhi also met separately on Friday with Premier Li Qiang and Wang Huning, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan pose for a group photo with Suriname President Chandrikapersad Santokhi and his wife Mellisa Santokhi-Seenacherry prior to the talks between Xi and Santokhi in Beijing, April 12, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

According to a joint communique released by the two nations, China will continue to provide Suriname with necessary assistance through bilateral and multilateral channels for development financing.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, trade between China and Suriname grew by 7.7 percent year-on-year to $384 million in 2023, with China's imports from the Caribbean country up by 19.1 percent.

China mainly exports electromechanical products, steel, furniture, textiles, plastic products, agricultural products, tires, and clothing to Suriname, while importing raw wood and sawed timber.

Cui Shoujun, founder and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Renmin University of China, said stronger cooperation with China can help Suriname, one of the least developed countries in the world, in improving its infrastructure, alleviating its power shortages and bolstering its exports.

"Suriname is also confronted with severe challenges from rising sea levels and climate change. Strengthening partnership with China can enable the nation to bolster its capacity in climate change mitigation and adaptation," he said.

For China, enhancing cooperation with Suriname can serve as a linchpin for broadening and deepening its partnerships with other South American countries, he added.