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China mission accomplished?

Thursday, February 27, 2014
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The Caribbean ambassadors and diplomats at yesterday’s opening of the T&T Embassy in Beijing were, from left, Guyana’s ambassador, David Dabydeen, Barbados ambassador Dr Chelston Brathwaite and his wife, Grenada’s ambassador Karl Hood, T&T ambassador Chandradath Singh, Suriname’s ambassador Dr Lloyd Pinas, the deputy head of mission for Bahamas, Sheila Carey, and Jacqueline Bell, Jamaica’s Minister Counsellor.

Not for the first time, I am writing this column from China—in the Beijing Airport waiting for a domestic flight to Shanghai, after a mix-up with the flight arrangements that may yet see me having to sleep on one of those hard airport chairs surrounded equally stranded Chinese. 


In some ways, it’s been productive and eye-opening trip, but in other ways, this has been a troubling visit. 


Going with the positive first, and proving the point that there are Trinis everywhere in the world who are excelling, there were some extraordinary nationals at the official opening of the T&T Embassy in China.


The first one was Nived Moonasar, a friendly young man, who is studying to become an eye surgeon in a relatively small town in central China, who was saying he is doing more corrective laser surgery there than almost anywhere else in the world. Nived took some leave from his studies to come down to Beijing to meet with the group of his countrymen at the Grand Hyatt.


The other extraordinary young man is Kirk John-Williams, who spent six years working in China and who, to the untrained ear, speaks Mandarin with all the flare of a native. Kirk is now the business development manager at his father’s construction company and it appears to me that his language skills have placed the company in pole position to get sub-contracting jobs from the many Chinese construction companies who operate or are about to operate in T&T.


The other young Trini who is doing great things in China is Seje Henry-Hughes, a Fatima old boy, who was head-hunted by a Shanghai-based property developer and sent to the boondocks in China for one year to learn the language. He is now the envelopment manager at CDG Retail Management, where he scouts for billion-dollar mall projects throughout the country.


And then there was Kevin Fleury, who did very well at his MBA programme at the Arthur Lok-Jack Graduate School of Business and is now doing a PhD in China.


The other point about the opening of the embassy is that all of the Beijing-based Caribbean diplomats turned out, which was a very strong signal of Caribbean solidarity. 


It also indicates that many of our Caribbean colleagues have been riding the Chinese dragon for many, many years and that T&T is new to the party in terms of establishing a presence here.



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