Sat | Feb 23, 2019

Jamaica must be wary of Chinese investments, say BBC journalists

Published:Wednesday | January 16, 2019 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Jonny Dymond (centre), presenter for BBC World Service Radio’s World Questions, flanked by panelists (from left) Professor Alvin Wint, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith, Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison and Opposition Member of Parliament Peter Bunting at last night’s hosting of the popular international programme at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston. The participants discussed several topical issues affecting Jamaica. Questions were also fielded from local journalists and members of the public.

It is the opinion of two British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) journalists that the investments that China is making in Jamaica must spark a level of caution in citizens.

In an exclusive interview with The Gleaner earlier this week at the newspaper's Kingston offices, veteran BBC presenter of the programme 'World Questions' on BBC World Radio, Jonny Dymond, and producer of the 'World Questions' series, Charlie Taylor, shared that investors from China and other powerful nations may offer a lot of good, but could have ulterior motives.

The 'World Questions' team is in Jamaica for the hosting of an episode of their show, which took place last night at Spanish Court Hotel, Valencia in St Andrew.

"It is fantastic to get investment, and Jamaica shouldn't be scared, but of course, you have to be wary about taking all your aid from one great power," Taylor asserted.

"When we do 'World Questions' and go around the world to countries like Kenya and Ghana, the same issue of China comes up, too. For instance, between Nairobi and Mombasa, people were talking about this fantastic new railway line that is going to join the two cities."

The Chinese have wide-scale investment in Jamaica, including a number of businesses and properties, as well as construction of the country's highways and major roadways.

 

MOVE VERY FAST

 

According to Dymond, the Chinese "move very fast", warning that "very few countries in the world give out aid without wanting something. Takeover is probably a strong word, because Jamaica is going to remain politically independent."

Without accusing China of any wrongdoing, the veteran journalist said that there are aspects of the Chinese system of governance that Jamaica must be mindful of.

"We are here to do 'World Questions', because we believe in having a variety of voices, including that of the audience. I don't see that kind of thing on Chinese television or hear on radio. I happen to think that liberal democracy is a good thing and is a better system than what they have in China," he stated.

"Is China something to be wary of? Jamaica has strong institutions and has the rule of law. You have been independent for decades. I don't think there is anything to be scared of. I just think you should be wary of other countries, including Britain. Jamaica didn't throw off Britain simply to become an economic colony of another power. Presumably, you would rather stay independent, vibrant and free."

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com