JIS News

A group of some 15 Chinese experts will arrive in the island by month-end to explore the possibilities for the resuscitation of the island’s railway system.
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who made the announcement at yesterday’s (June 27) post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House in Kingston, said this would be with a view to examine the possibilities for the provision of passenger service between Kingston and Spanish Town and subsequently May Pen in Clarendon.
The Prime Minister was providing an update on the outcome of his official visit to China from June 17 to June 24, where he visited Beijing, Xian and Shanghai.
Mr. Patterson said the visit to China allowed for the conclusion of a number of agreements, which were initiated during the February visit of Chinese Vice President Ma Xiuhong.
During the visit, six bilateral agreements were signed for co-operation in Education, Bauxite, Railway, Technical Co-operation (two), and Travel.
The agreement on education represents a five-year renewable contract, which will see China sending tutors to teach the language at the University of the West Indies. Both countries will explore the possibility of teaching of the language in secondary schools in Jamaica.
Under the Bauxite agreement signed between Jamaica Bauxite Mining Limited and China’s Minmetals Corporation, Minmetals will undertake a detailed feasibility study for the building of a plant in St. Ann for the export of bauxite, briefly in the first instance, and alumina for use in China, soon afterwards.
Two technical co-operation agreements were also signed with the Chinese Government providing US$1.25 million in grant aid for the implementation of economic and technical projects.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said the visa abolition arrangement, which was also agreed on, would see the issuing of multiple entry visas from the island’s ports of entry for the purpose of business travel between both countries.
“That is really intended to facilitate business travel and it is a precursor to the volume of visitors, which we expect to flow from our designation as an approved destination status for Chinese visits,” Mr. Patterson said.
He said the visit was also used to rouse interest in several projects, inclusive of the China Town project, envisaged as a part of the redevelopment of Downtown Kingston.
The Prime Minister said the administration was very committed to the redevelopment of Downtown Kingston. “This is not a partisan political matter, it is something which is in the interest of the entire nation,” he stressed. Furthermore, he said it would have been necessary in any event, but as the country prepared for Cricket World Cup 2007, it was an absolute must.
Mr. Patterson pointed out that it was also essential to enlist greater levels of support from corporate Jamaica than has been evident so far in respect of the redevelopment proposal. He said this drive would have to be spearheaded by the Government.
He said the possibilities for collaboration between Shanghai, which was presently the fastest growing city in eastern Asia, and Montego Bay, was also being examined.