by Suelin Low Chew Tung
Grenada attended the opening meeting of the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) of the People’s Republic of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday, 5 March 2023.
Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council, delivered the report on the work of the government. Highlights of the 40-page work report provided in English included:
- A growth target of around 5%
- The creation of 12 million urban jobs in 2023
- Increasing rural incomes through rural industries
- Food security and green and low-carbon development
The report also noted China’s major-country diplomacy, which “actively expanded global partnerships, worked to build an open world economy, safeguarded multilateralism and promoted the building of a human community with a shared future.” The report also stated that over the past 5 years, exchanges and cooperation between China and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries registered steady progress in various areas. China remained committed to expanding international economic and trade cooperation for mutually beneficial outcomes. Grenada has been a beneficiary of the BRI since 2005.
The Great Hall of the People is the People’s Republic of China’s political, economic, cultural and diplomatic centre and is symbolic of the pride and dignity of the Chinese people. Situated west of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on approach, the building exudes quiet gravitas. Inside, high ceilings and columns are proud with artisanal craftsmanship; wide walls support massive artworks of Chinese landscapes and calligraphy. Red carpets connect hallways and ground the environment. In the Great Auditorium, the stage hosted two head tables and four columns of tables for government leaders. Fanned out on the ground level were long desks to accommodate the NPC Deputies, flanked by giant counters as they arrived. Behind the press box on the expansive balcony were rows of guests, diplomats and security detail. Crowning the room was the ceiling design of a red star set against rippling circles, which reminded me of a pebble cast into a pond causing the water to ripple and spread in all directions. Impressive is not a strong enough word to describe the overall ambience.
Similarly, Grenada’s Parliament building at Mt Wheldale, St George, designed by Grenadian architect firm COCOA, is its political and democratic centre. The design within the Chamber evokes Grenada’s nutmeg, and the Chamber walls allude to Carriacou’s boat-building tradition. The overall design references Grenada’s history and symbolises our people’s dignity.
In 2017, when he was Assistant Foreign Minister of China, Qin Gang visited Grenada and met with Ambassador HE Dr Zhao Yongchen, the Grenada Government and the Governor General, exchanging views on China-Grenada relations and bilateral cooperation. He also visited several China-aided projects, including the Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project and Agricultural Complex Project.
At 10 am on Tuesday, 7 March, Foreign Minister Qin Gang will hold his first press conference since coming into office last December. Qin is expected to take questions about China’s foreign policy and external relations. Journalists hosted by the China International Press Communication Centre (CIPCC), including Grenada, will sit in on that press conference. Grenada will seek a response to our question on collective cooperation: China, Grenada and the Belt and Road Initiative — important to us and to the region.
Suelin is visiting Beijing, hosted by China International Press Communication Centre (CIPCC), to report on China with a Grenadian view.