Chinese President Xi Jinping visiting Trinidad three days after US VP Biden

Chinese president Xi  Jinping and US vice President Biden

The office of Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has announced that  Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, and his wife, Peng Liyuanwill pay a State visit to Trinidad and Tobago from May 31 to June 2, 2013. 

The visit will come just three days after a visit to the country by United States Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden's visit follows the visit of Persad-Bissessar to Washington in April where she held discussions with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on several matters of critical interest to Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) including the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, assistance in fighting the illegal drug trade and the process of criminal deportations from the United States. Persad-Bissessar, who will assume the chairmanship of Caricom on July 1, also discussed the convening of a Caricom-US Summit.

While in Trinidad, Vice President Biden hopes to meet with other leaders of other Caribbean countries, whom Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar has offered to invite to discuss the US and Caribbean collective efforts to promote economic growth and development, access to energy and ongoing collaboration on citizen security. 

In recent weeks, Persad-Bissessar has dismissed reports of deteriorating relations between Washington and Port of Spain as a result of the failure to extradite businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, and possible US Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation of former security minister Austin 'Jack' Warner.

The Chinese President's visit is of particular historical significance as it will be the first visit of a President of the People’s Republic of China to the English-speaking Caribbean.

China which has significantly stepped up its presence in the Caribbean in recent years, announced earlier this year an agreement to loan Persad-Bissessar's Trinidad and Tobago government $280.6 million to build infrastructure. Trinidad and Tobago has supported the One China Policy and the restoration of China’s legitimate rights in the United Nations since 1971 and has had diplomatic relations with China since 1974

China's President Xi Jinping will follow up his visit to Trinidad and Tobago with  a state visit to the Republic of Costa Rica and the United Mexican States, Vice president Biden also plans to visit  Colombia and emerging super power Brazil on his trip.

Both visits highlight the importance of the Caribbean and Latin America as important area for trade and investment and increasing competition between China and the US for influence in the area. For the US the issue seems to be shoring up waning influence in the Caribbean, while for China the area presents expanding opportunities.