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Last updated: 05 February, 2007 - Published 09:52 GMT
 
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Grenada goofs: anthem mixup
 
China funded the Grenada stadium
China provided the money and labour for Grenada's cricket stadium
"I think you would have to go a long way to find a more embarrassing moment for us" was how newspaper publisher Leslie Pierre described Saturday's incident in Grenada.

Prime Minister Keith Mitchell has promised an investigation into the diplomatic incident, in which the Taiwanese national anthem was played at the official handing over of the Chinese-funded national stadium.

The gaffe by the Royal Grenada Police Force Band caused deep embarrassment to officials of the government, and the Chinese ambassador and other representatives who attended the ceremony on Saturday.

A most unfortunate incident

Mr Pierre called it a most unfortunate incident which had left the country's prime minister and the police commissioner with egg on their faces.

But there were harsher comments from Grenadians on the streets.

One man told BBC Caribbean "I'm not accepting any apology from the police force, this is a sabotage by the police".

"Whether it was sabotage or mixup I think it's distasteful" one woman observed.

The police received some support when one man insisted that they shouldn't be made a scapegoat: "Somebody gave the police the national anthem to practice".

Correct anthem played eventually

The correct anthem, China's, was played after Saturday's ceremony to hand over the US$40 million facility which will host matches of the cricket world cup which starts next month.

China does not recognise Taiwan as an independent country, regarding it instead as a renagade breakaway province.

The two have played out their diplomatic struggle in the Caribbean, and Grenada had again switched their support.

They resumed diplomatic relations with Beijing in 2005, breaking off a 15-year relationship with Taiwan.

Prime Minister apologises

Dr Mitchell, who alerted the hundreds of invited guests at the ceremony to the mistake, said it saddened a happy moment.

"On behalf of the Government and people of this very happy country, a country that recognizes the warmth of its friends and respect its friends, I deeply apologized to the Chinese Ambassador and the entire Chinese people," Dr. Mitchell said.
An apologetic Keith Mitchell

"I was told (that) an inadvertent error occurred today when the wrong national anthem was played. It's a very sad one.

"I know the breaking of this relationship with Taiwan was not something supported by all concerned but one thing I always valued about our country is that while we have our differences we respect everybody and we respect all countries.

"Once again my deepest apologies, it has saddened and ached my heart," Dr Mitchell continued.

Full investigation

"This incident will not go unnoticed and a full investigation will in fact have to be done.

"I'm pretty sure that all Grenadians including the opposition forces in this country will support any action of the government to deal with this in a way that demonstrates that we respect our friends at all levels at all societies."

The prime minister and his Cabinet were discussing the matter on Monday.

But journalist Leslie Pierre told BBC Caribbean he didn't think there was long-term damage to Grenada/China relations.

And he said any smiles evoked in Taipei by the incident who be very fleeting and momentary:

"I think we can put this behind us very very quickly - once we have apologised to the Chinese and they have accepted it. People will be talking about it for a long time but I don't think it will remain an issue in Grenada" Mr Pierre said.

Grenada and China resumed diplomatic relations in 2005 after the Caribbean island broke a 15-year relationship with Taiwan.

China has been the main financier of a number of projects on the island including a 2,000 unit housing project which was signed into agreement late last year.

 
 
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