On this day 18 years ago – November 5, 2004 – the Saint Lucia-China Friendship Association (SLCFA) was launched at the NIC Conference Center at the Francis Compton Building on the Castries Waterfront.
It was a splendid affair.
Saint Lucia had ties with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 1997 and the Association was launched seven years later, the launching ceremony attended by the Governor General and Cabinet Ministers, Public Service Officers, leaders 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 objective of pursuing People to People Friendship between Saint Lucia and China.
The SLCFA and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) coordinated strengthening of ties between the peoples of Saint Lucia and the PRC, including visits to China by SLCFA delegations and to Saint Lucia by various Chinese delegations.
One of the most memorable symbolic exchanges back then was when a musical band representing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) performed at Derek Walcott Square, playing and singing popular English-language songs to the applause of a very appreciative Saint Lucian audience.
Saint Lucia delegations also visited China several times, including to Beijing, Shanghai, Fujian, Sichuan and Chongqing, as well as participating in a working cruise along the Yangtse River – all with representatives of other China Friendship Associations from Caribbean and Latin American nations, representing different languages and cultures, but with one common aim: fostering People-to-People Friendship.
The SLCFA’s last public activity was on October 1, 2019, a reception to mark the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic, held at the Pointe Seraphine Hotel and attended by special guests, including original members in advanced age or retirement, who were duly honoured.
The event, also attended by a Cabinet Minister, featured a special presentation of various aspects of China’s national development since 1949 — from the very beginning under Chairman Mao Tse Tung and the Communist Party of China (CPC), through to the present under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, displaying the PRC’s economic and military might, its industrialization and infrastructural expansion, how its people are cared for, how it was Eradicating Poverty and achieving other United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the unveiling of the brand-new Daxing International Airport in Beijing, the nation’s latest and biggest – and most technologically-advanced.
The advent of COVID-19 in 2020 saw the SLCFA go into national lockdown like all else – and now, with the all-clear for, and an end to various restrictions as 2022 comes to an end, the organization is marking its 18th Anniversary this weekend, at a time when the PRC continues to evolve towards establishment of 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 and Forward March into the first half of the 21st Century, still as the world’s biggest factory, the largest trading partner on Planet Earth – and one nation the world cannot do without.
Meanwhile, the SLCFA is undertaking a membership renewal and revival exercise, as of now, with all eyes and intent on a return to full-time organizational activity in 2023, to continue the journey towards its 20th Anniversary.