Roosevelt Skerrit: China-Dominica relations have become a model of south-south cooperation

Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, visited China from March 23-29. During his visit he gave an interview to Wang Guan for the CGTN series Leaders Talk. 

Skerrit, who has visited China 12 times in the 20 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations shortly after he became Prime Minister, describes the country as a true and reliable friend in difficult times.

His meeting with President Xi Jinping had been the highlight of his current visit. They had reached a consensus on bilateral and multilateral issues, especially the need to take stronger measures to tackle the threats posed by climate change and to build stronger resilience in this regard. 

Skerrit acclaims the Chinese leader’s work for global peace and prosperity, in a way that will allow every country to prosper. China’s example in this regard should be emulated by the developed countries.

The Dominican Prime Minister agreed with President Xi’s observation that China-Dominica relations have become a model of south-south cooperation. He noted that although Dominica is a very small country, Xi always treats him as an equal. 

Dominica fully supports the one China principle, which it regards as a tenet of international law, and will support and play its part in the peaceful reunification of China. 

Expanding on China’s friendship in difficult times, Skerrit said that whenever Dominica faces difficulties, China comes to its aid without even having to be asked. As a small Caribbean island country, Dominica is highly susceptible to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Erika in 2015 and Hurricane Maria in 2017, which destroyed or damaged some 90% of buildings on the island, and climate change is truly an existential threat for small island states in particular, whether in the Caribbean or the South Pacific. Dominica is seeking to harness its own resources, such as geothermal and hydro, with the aim to achieve 100% renewable energy usage by 2030.

China had played a major role in reconstruction following the hurricanes, for example, completing the reconstruction of the West Coast Road, which links the capital Roseau with the second city of Portsmouth, in 2020, despite the challenges posed by COVID. Other key aid projects of China are the Dominica-China Friendship Hospital along with the building of six schools. The Friendship Hospital is described by Skerrit as the most modern one to be found in the Caribbean and he singles out its cardiology unit as a key example of a facility that ensures that Dominicans can now receive specialist treatment without needing to travel abroad.

In agricultural technology, China is helping Dominica to contribute to regional food security through the development of seedlings that are more resilient to pests and to the vagaries of the climate.

As for his impressions of the changes in China that he has been able to witness in 12 visits over two decades, Skerrit simply describes them as magical, citing in particular achievements in technology, infrastructure, education and the promotion of common prosperity.

Skerrit also commends China’s promotion of dialogue in dealing with international issues as well as its rejection of unilateral sanctions, especially the United States’ unfair and unjust sanctions on Cuba. He rejects the misconceptions harboured by the United States and some European powers regarding China’s engagement with the countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This engagement is focused on economic development and social advancement and China’s support and cooperation come with no conditions. Loans extended to the Caribbean and Latin America by China have the lowest interest rates, sometimes being fixed at zero.

The full interview with Prime Minister Skerrit is embedded below.

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