Liu Lei: Jamaica-China ties reaping harvest
In 2012, I was very lucky to be appointed as economic and commercial counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Jamaica.
After working here for four years, it is really sad for me to say goodbye to this beautiful island with which I am deeply in love.
But I am encouraged by the remarkable fruits of our mutually beneficial economic cooperation, thanks to the outstanding contribution by Chinese and Jamaican people from all walks of life. It is heartening for me, personally, to be able to witness the great achievements we have made.
Over the years, China has done its best to support and assist Jamaica in achieving its social and economic development by undertaking a number of projects with grant assistance. Sligoville Water Supply & Road Renovation and the Chinese Garden projects have been completed in 2013 and 2015. The office building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade project will be commenced soon. Two Early Childhood Institute Projects, Confucius Institute Project and Children's Hospital Project are all on the way.
In 2009, China became Jamaica's fourth largest source of imports and ninth-largest export destination. In 2012, Jamaica became China's top trading partner in the Caribbean. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica's latest data, the total volume of China-Jamaica trade reached US$427 million in 2014, an increase of 25.6 per cent over 2013, and 78.7 per cent over 2010.
CONCESSIONAL LOAN PROJECTS MAKE PROGRESS
Under the Chinese Government Concessional Loan and Preferential Export Buyer's Credit Loan, the Palisadoes airport road and Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) were finished in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The Economic Housing Project will be finished in March 2016. Major Infrastructure Development Programme will be completed next year.
China is also making efforts to share its experience and expertise with Jamaica. So far, under the Chinese government aid framework, around 1,000 officials and professionals have participated in training programmes in China. The number of participants increased from 61 in 2011 to 231 in 2015, including 28 full Chinese government scholarships in 2015. Cooperation in this area has boosted capacity building in Jamaica and substantially enhanced understanding and friendship between the Chinese and Jamaican people.
During my stay here, more and more Chinese companies have come to Jamaica, creating thousands of jobs for the local people. The China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) alone invested US$730 million in the North-South Highway project in 2012, which is the single largest investment in infrastructure on the island. This highway, scheduled to be officially opened on March 23, 2016, will provide first-class services for the Jamaican people, significantly shortening the travel time from Kingston to Ocho Rios.
In 2010, China Complete Plant Import & Export Corporation (COMPLANT) purchased three sugar estates and established a Pan Caribbean Sugar Company. It has so far invested more than US$200 million in the renovation and upgrading of the facilities. The new factory is able to double its cane-processing capacity, while substantially reducing pollutant emission. What's more noteworthy is that the factory supplies surplus electricity to the national grid.
All these above-mentioned projects are the sweet fruits yielded from the long-term stable and friendly bilateral relationship between China and Jamaica, which has played a positive role in the social and economic development of Jamaica and deepened the friendship between our two peoples.
It is worth mentioning that Chinese companies in Jamaica have incorporated social responsibilities into their business operations and development strategies during project implementation. They have always been attaching special importance to undertaking social responsibilities by donating to schools, helping maintenance of community roads, granting scholarships to excellent students, and taking part in international coastal clean-up day activities.
As I say goodbye to Jamaica, I wish to extend my appreciation to you all for the warm friendship and firm support you have given me. My thanks also go to all staff of the local Chinese companies for their unselfish dedication. I will miss you dearly, and I'll always cherish the wonderful memory of Jamaica.
Last but not least, I sincerely wish Jamaica a more prosperous tomorrow. May our two peoples enjoy everlasting friendship and our countries ever closer mutually beneficial cooperation.