The Government of the People’s Republic of China awarded five Bahamian students full Chinese Government Scholarships, on Thursday, (July 24, 2008) bringing the ten-year total since the Chinese Government began awarding scholarships to deserving Bahamian students in 1999 to 19.

The Government of the People’s Republic of China implemented the scholarship award programme through the China Scholarship Council just two years after establishing diplomatic relations with the Government of The Bahamas in 1997.

Minister of Foreign Affairs (Acting), the Hon. O.A.T. “Tommy” Turnquest applauded the Chinese Government for the “technical assistance and cooperation” the Government of the Peoples Republic of China has extended to The Bahamas over the past 11 years.

Mr. Turnquest said the Government of The Bahamas was “particularly appreciative of this scholarships programme” which allows Bahamians to pursue higher education and prepares them for making their necessary contributions to nation building.

“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1997, Bahamian students have pursued higher education at the Bachelor’s and Masters levels in a range of disciplines from manufacturing and design of clothing and apparel, to medicine, astrophysics/astronomy and international business management and marketing,” Mr. Turnquest continued.

“Today’s scholarship awards will continue that trend. We are confident that the recipients will be well prepared to play their necessary roles in the further development of our country,” Mr. Turnquest added.

The five students – Keshandi Thompson, Najah Plakaris, Blaine Butler, Kenson Tinker and Chrystal Hanna – will pursue degrees in the fields of Medicine, Languages, Architecture and Asian Studies and Diplomacy at some of the leading universities in China, among them, the Southeast University in Nanjing, the Beijing International Studies University, the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou and the Donghua University in Shangai.

“These are renowned key universities in China which will provide good conditions and environments for their studies,” said His Excellency Hu Dingxian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Peoples Republic of China.

“The Chinese Government Scholarships Programmes have been established to strengthen mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese people and the people of the rest of the world, and to enhance the cooperation and exchanges in the fields of education, science and technology, culture, economics and trade.

“The Bahamian students study science and technology, medicine, international trade, psychology, architecture, and so on, in China. I hope and believe that this learning and training will contribute to the development of the most precious human resources, which would benefit The Bahamas’ social and economic development,” Ambassador Hu added.

Mr. Turnquest told the young Bahamians that they will commence their studies in China at “a most opportune time.” He said the upcoming Beijing Olympics, which will begin in less than two weeks, and the appointment of Her Excellency, Elma Campbell, as Resident Ambassador to China, are among the new developments in China.

“As the Bahamas’ first Resident Ambassador to China, she has asked me to assure you that the doors of the embassy are open to, and for you. The Ambassador will, at the same time, be looking to you to portray in China all that is good about our Bahamas, its people, its culture and its traditions,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“I urge you as well, to be good ambassadors for our Bahamas. Take full advantage of this opportunity and to learn all that you can. Become fluent in the Chinese language (as) it is the language of the fastest growing economy in the world,” Mr. Turnquest added.