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18 years ago, on November 5, 2004, the Saint Lucia-China Friendship Association (SLCFA) was launched at the NIC Conference Center in the Francis Compton building on the seafront in Castries. It was a splendid affair.
Saint Lucia had ties with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1997 and the Association was launched seven years later, the launch ceremony attended by the Governor General and Cabinet Ministers, officials from the civil service, executives of private and public entities and individuals either doing business with China or simply interested in learning more about the PRC.
The association was registered earlier that year, with the main purpose of continuing the people-to-people friendship between Saint Lucia and China.
The SLCFA and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) coordinated the strengthening of ties between the peoples of Saint Lucia and the PRC, including visits to China by SLCFA delegations and in Saint Lucia by various Chinese delegations.
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One of the most memorable symbolic exchanges at the time took place when a musical group representing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) performed in Derek Walcott Square, playing and singing popular songs in English under the applause of a very grateful Saint Lucian public.
Saint Lucia delegations have also visited China on several occasions, including Beijing, Shanghai, Fujian, Sichuan and Chongqing, and participated in a working cruise along the Yangtze River – all with representatives from other Chinese friendship associations in the Caribbean and Latin American countries, representing different languages and cultures, but with a common goal: to foster friendship between peoples.
The last public activity of the SLCFA was on October 1, 2019, a reception to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic, held at the Pointe Séraphine Hotel and attended by special guests, including original members in old age or retired, who were duly honoured.
The event, which was also attended by a Cabinet Minister, included a special presentation of various aspects of China’s national development since 1949 – from the very beginning under Chairman Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), to today under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, showing the economic and military power of the PRC, its industrialization and infrastructural expansion, the way its people are taken care of, how it eradicated poverty and achieved other goals of United Nations Sustainable Development (SDG) and the unveiling of the all-new Daxing International Airport in Beijing, the country’s newest and largest, and most technologically advanced.
The advent of COVID-19 in 2020 saw the SLCFA enter a national lockdown like everything else – and now, with the green light and the end of various restrictions at the end of 2022, the organization celebrates its 18th anniversary this weekend, at a time when the PRC continues to move towards establishing a society based on socialism with Chinese characteristics by 2049, the centenary of the Republic.
It also comes at a time when China continues its long march forward into the first half of the 21st century, still as the world’s largest factory, planet Earth’s largest trading partner – and a nation whose world no can happen.
Meanwhile, the SLCFA is undertaking a membership renewal and relaunch exercise, going forward, with all eyes and intent on a return to full-time organizational activity in 2023, to continue the journey towards his 20th birthday.
THE SOURCE: Saint Lucia-China Friendship Association
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