JIS News

During the week of November 18 to 24, the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China will be commemorated with television feature exchanges between private and public sector media entities in both countries.
Jamaican art, cuisine, and other aspects of national life will be featured on Chinese television and, correspondingly, television stations here will be carrying programmes highlighting Chinese life and culture.
Additionally, the Jamaican Embassy in Beijing will mount an art exhibition, entitled ‘Journeys’, to mark the day that diplomatic relations were established. Jamaica established diplomatic relations with China on November 21, 1972.
The exhibition will feature the work of three Jamaican artists, two of whom are Boston-based namely Peter Wayne Lewis and Brian McFarlane. The third is Courtney Hogarth, who is completing doctoral degree studies in Chinese painting on a scholarship at the Chinese Central Academy.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with JIS News yesterday (Nov. 15), the Director of Bilateral Relations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Courtenay Rattray, outlined a number of areas in which Jamaica has benefited from its warm relations with China.
He said that, “currently there is a very wide range of areas of cooperation between the two countries,” adding “in July of 2005, Jamaica took a decision to establish an embassy in Beijing, which is headed by Ambassador Wayne McCook and this has served to dramatically increase the range of activities that we jointly undertake and cooperate with in respect of China”.
Mr. Rattray further commented that, “many people in the public would have heard of some of the more grand projects that we have been collaborating on with China, which the Chinese look at as flagship projects.”
Mentioning specific projects, Mr. Rattray said: “In the lead up to the Cricket World Cup, the stadium in Trelawny was constructed by a Chinese company with a loan (US$30 million) that was obtained from the Chinese Government on very concessionary terms.”
Turning to the Montego Bay Convention Centre to be constructed in the first quarter of the next financial year, Mr. Rattray said, “The funding of 350 million Yuan or US$45.2 million will be provided by the Ex-Im Bank of China at a concessionary rate of interest and the total built area will be in the order of 215,278 square feet comprising eight separate rooms in addition to facilitating exhibition space, meeting areas and banquet space”.
Mr. Rattray also mentioned that grant funding was provided by the Government of China for a number of significant construction projects in Sligoville, St. Catherine, which were completed recently. These are a 2,500 seat multi-purpose stadium completed in July; a new post office; and a new police station with increased personnel, which was officially opened on Wednesday, November 14 by Minister of National Security, Derrick Smith.
The process of deepening relations between Jamaica and China goes even further, as according to Mr. Rattray, “There is a significant activity that has started since 2005, which takes place once every two years called the China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, which Jamaica hosted jointly with the Government of China in February 2005”.
The forum, Mr. Rattray explained, provides an opportunity for businesses and investors from Caribbean countries to meet with their counterparts from China to improve the trade and economic flows that take place between this region and China.
“The second forum just occurred in China in September and as a result, Jamaica benefited from the receipt of a grant of $140 million and we have the latitude to utilize that money for technical and economic projects as we see fit. In addition, much has been made in the press of a significant amount of funding ($39 billion/US$1/2 billion) to be provided as concessionary business loans by the Chinese Government to Chinese investors and business persons to invest in the Caribbean,” Mr. Rattray told JIS News.
“Generally speaking, we support each other in multilateral fora, that is the United Nations and other international organizations,” Mr. Rattray said, adding, “we share common interests in relation to the promotion of multilateralism and the development of an effective multilateral system that can deal with the challenges and threats to international peace and security, as well as to the promotion of a more effective and equitable system of global and economic governance.”

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