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Mr. Vice President, you have honoured us greatly by your visit.
We welcome you most sincerely and, as you have come from the cold winter of China, we hope that you will enjoy not only the bright Caribbean sunshine but also the warmth of our Jamaican hospitality.
Your visit is important and means a great deal to us because it underscores the strong bond of friendship that exists between China and Jamaica.
Our two countries established diplomatic relations more than 36 years ago. Throughout that time, Jamaica has never wavered in its respect and support for the People’s Republic of China. We recognize China. We recognize only one China. And China has never wavered in its support for the aims and aspirations of the Jamaican people.
Long before we established diplomatic relations in 1972, our relations with China were nurtured by the strength of the Chinese community in Jamaica which has existed for more than 150 years. They have excelled in many fields and have come to be regarded as a symbol of success. They are, indeed, a testament to our national motto: Out Of Many One People.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to the government of China for the assistance it has provided to Jamaica in many different areas, assistance which has helped us to improve the quality of life of our people. We are pleased that China is committed to expanding those areas of assistance.
Today, we signed seven new agreements and letters of exchange heralding new initiatives of technical and financial assistance in a number of areas.
Tomorrow, you, Mr. Vice President, will launch the Confucius Centre at the UWI for the teaching of the Chinese language, academic studies in critical disciplines and the promotion of cultural exchange.
On Saturday, we will break ground for the 50,000 sq ft Convention Centre in Montego Bay for which your government has graciously provided concessional loan financing.
We are currently engaged in discussions toward further cooperation and assistance through projects to be financed under the special loan facility of 4 billion Yuan which your government has provided to assist Caribbean countries in their development.
Discussions are also being held with a number of Chinese entrepreneurs in relation to a number of major investment projects and we expect shortly to sign a number of Memoranda of Understanding.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. We congratulate you most heartily.
China has made vast strides in its development and, today, it is the second largest economy in the world, the result of the reform and modernization programme launched 31 years ago. The world has watched in amazement the success of that programme and the stupendous rates of economic growth it has produced.
China continues to be a valued friend of Jamaica. China has long been an important partner of Jamaica as we strive to develop our country. That partnership is especially important to us at this time when Jamaica is experiencing the impact of the global economic crisis.
We are encouraged by the fact that China never focuses only on the present but plans and builds for the future.
We are encouraged by your assurance that strengthening and expanding the partnership with Jamaica is part of China’s plans for the future.
Vice President Xi Jinping, we must congratulate you on the magnificent way in which China organized the 29th Olympiad in Beijing last summer. It was a mammoth task which was superbly executed and I know that you had special responsibility for its organization. I was not able to be there but my Ministers with responsibility for Sports and Tourism were there. And so was Usain Bolt! It was a marvellous event that brought glory to both China and Jamaica.
Mr. Vice President, we welcome you once again.
We are disappointed that your wife was not able to accompany you. We know she is one of China’s great, internationally acclaimed folk singers. We would have wanted to learn from her some more about Chinese music. And we would have been delighted for her to take back with her some of the flavour of Jamaican reggae music. I ask that you convey to her our kind regards.
I ask, also, that you convey to your distinguished President Hu Jintao the gratitude and good wishes of the government and people of Jamaica.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in saluting Vice President Xi Jinping and raise your glasses with me in a toast to the government and people of China and to the strengthening of the bonds of friendship between the people of China and the people of Jamaica.
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