Salvador Moncada, Ambassador of Honduras to China (Photo by Lu Ningyuan/People's Daily)
As a renowned scientist and pharmacologist in Honduras, Salvador Moncada has many achievements. Now, Moncada has a new role that makes him proud: the first Ambassador of Honduras to China. At the end of September this year, Moncada arrived in China to assume his new position. “I have lots of expectations. I have lots of hopes that we can do quite a lot of work. We can develop interactions at the cultural and scientific and technical level and commercial level that are of mutual benefit,” Moncada recently told this newspaper in an interview. “I want to do the best I can, every day I am here. I hope that in the future, I will be writing something about that.”
“I have seen the enormous changes in China”
Moncada has a deep connection with China, as he has been in contact with China for many years through his scientific research work. “When I worked in a research laboratory in the UK, there were Chinese students there. In the 1980s, I came to China for the first time, and later I came to China many times to attend academic conferences. Over the past 30 years, I have seen the enormous changes that have taken place in China. Every time I come, I almost don't recognize the places where I visited before,” Moncada said.
Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an…these are the Chinese cities that have left a deep impression on Moncada. “I like every Chinese city I have been to. Many years ago, I traveled from Hong Kong and Macau all the way to Guangdong, which was a short but interesting journey. Guilin is also a beautiful place. Everyone should go and see,” Moncada said. “I also like various Chinese cuisines. Central Americans like spicy food, so I love Sichuan cuisine the most.”
The more Moncada visits China, the deeper his understanding of Chinese economy and society becomes. “The improvement of the living standards of the Chinese people is evident, China has eradicated absolute poverty, the size of the middle-income group has expanded, and people are enjoying the fruits of economic, social and cultural development. This is a story of success that nobody else has had in the Global South,” Moncada said that Chinese modernization is the modernization of harmony between humanity and nature, and it impressed him deeply. Ecological civilization construction is not only essential to the development of one country, but also to the survival of all mankind. China is striving to promote green development that is a very important path. At the same time, Chinese modernization is the modernization of common prosperity for all, reflecting the concept of shared development. For Global South countries, including Honduras, solving the imbalance of development is an important issue. Society must achieve inclusive development and enable everyone to participate in the development process. In this way, everyone can benefit. “As Global South countries, Honduras and China have great common interests in pursuing development,” Moncada said.
Downtown Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras.(Photo provided by the Embassy of Honduras in China)
Quickly release the “dividends” of establishing diplomatic relations
On March 26 this year, China and Honduras established diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level. “At the time, I was living in London. When I learned of the opportunity to serve as the ambassador to China, I felt greatly honored and was delighted to come to China,” Moncada recalled.
In June this year, when Honduran President Castro visited China, many Honduran netizens praised her visit on overseas social media, expressing their support for strengthening cooperation with China. Moncada added, “President Castro expressed her hope to establish diplomatic relations with China during her campaign, and this idea was widely supported by the people. Honduras is willing to carry out cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and equal mutual benefit. We are full of anticipation for deepening cooperation with China.”
China and Honduras quickly released the “dividends” of establishing diplomatic relations : In September, Honduran coffee achieved exports to China. Honduran white shrimp, bananas and other specialty products completed the relevant procedures shortly after the establishment of diplomatic relations and were allowed to enter the Chinese market. In November, Honduras became one of the guest countries of honor at the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) and joined the “friend circle” of the CIIE. Moncada said that the speed of advancing economic and trade cooperation between the two countries was “beyond expectations”. He introduced that the Honduras-China free trade agreement had finished the first two rounds of negotiations, and the negotiations progressed faster than expected. He hoped that both countries could sign the agreement as soon as possible.
Maya Site of Copan, Honduras.(Photo provided by the Embassy of Honduras in China)
Opening up greater space for cooperation
Having established diplomatic relations, China and Honduras signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative. Moncada has a lot of thoughts when it comes to the Belt and Road Initiative. Moncada said that developing transportation and communication infrastructure was crucial, as it directly affected the development process of a country. China’s experience showed that development was brought by the railway wherever it went. Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, some African countries’ railway projects have produced immediate positive effects. The Belt and Road Initiative would have a significant impact on the development of the Global South, and would help promote connectivity, improve infrastructure construction level, and eliminate communication barriers and difficulties. “I think increasing communication, sharing infrastructure, and reducing barriers, hopefully, is going to result in a world in which we will understand each other better.”
At the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation convened recently, China announced eight major steps it will take in support of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, opening up greater space for China-Honduras cooperation. “Honduras has a lot of expectations for the Belt and Road Initiative,” Moncada said, “I hope that the Belt and Road Initiative will bring not only physical development to Honduras, but also progress in the fields of society, education, technology, and so on. So it will be like something underneath pushing the development and the organization of society, in a higher and higher level.”
In the vast space of promoting China-Honduras cooperation, Moncada found a point of convergence between his identity as a scientist and his role as a diplomat. “I am very interested in medicine. We have a great need for developing medicine that looks after the majority of the population in Honduras. We need to work hard for this,” Moncada said, adding that China has rich experience in primary health care, and he looks forward to strengthening cooperation with China in this area. “Before I came to China, I had discussed topics such as Honduras-China health cooperation with the Chinese ambassador to Honduras. There is a shortage of doctors and medicines in rural areas of Honduras, and we hope that the Chinese medical team can provide us with help in this regard.”
By Mao Li | Haiwainet
Follow the stories of China with the ambassadors from 27 countries and explore the vast world! Scan the QR code below and order "Talk to Ambassadors (Volume 2)" right away.