Tue | Aug 11, 2020

Letter of the Day | China experience a model for Ja

Published:Thursday | October 10, 2019 | 12:00 AM


We should congratulate China for the achievements the country has made over its 70 years since the Republic came into being.

China is now an awesome world power, not only by virtue of its economic and commercial success but also by virtue of its military might.

China has moved from poverty, backwardness and hunger. In 70 years the country has managed to combine communism with capitalism better than any other country, and this has resulted in its industrial and commercial might.

Jamaica gained its Independence in 1962 and is now celebrating 57 years as a nation. We, however, have not made any progress comparable to what China has achieved. In fact, there are several aspects of our nation that have not changed over the years.

In 1953, that is to say, 66 years ago, the Jamaican author Roger Mais wrote the novel The Hills Were Joyful Together. The first two paragraphs of the book are as follows:

“The yard counted among its ramshackle structures an old shaking-down concrete nog building with the termite-ridden wood frame eating away until only a crustacean shell under the dirty white cracked and blistering paint remained.

“This building stood on the south side. A row of barrack-like shacks at back and another row of barrack-like shacks to the north, with the crazilyleaning fence out front, enclosed what was once a brick-paved courtyard in the middle of which there was an ancient circular cement cistern and above it a standpipe with a cock leaning all to one side and leaking continually with a weary trickle of water that was sometimes stronger than at others, depending on the pressure from the main outside.”

This was the depiction of a tenement yard in Kingston which Roger Mais described so graphically as he commenced his novel.

Today, we have similar yards, not only in Kingston but now all over Jamaica. So instead of us, and our political leaders in particular, working towards the elimination of poverty among our people, more and more of the lower class are being left behind. This is unlike the case in China where, as a matter of policy, there is a determined effort to raise the standard of living of all.

We are creating a widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘haves-nots’ and the perpetration of substandard living and lack of opportunity for a vast number of our people at the bottom of the economic scale.

The experience of China is a message for us all. Jamaica is not a communist country but we can learn from China the importance of seeing to the welfare of all members of our nation.

Linton Gordon