China no infringement on Jamaican national pride
'Of Parliament, Pride and China' - a contribution by Ronald Mason in The Sunday Gleaner, March 26, 2017 - opines objection to China playing a role in the Jamaican Parliament, implying that that will be an infringement on Jamaica's national pride. I beg to disagree.
First, Mr Mason's reference to "the prominent role of the Chinese government in designing and building Jamaica's Houses of Parliament" is not correct. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Creation of a Development Proposal for Kingston and Adjoining Areas was signed between the Government of Jamaica (GOJ), the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), and China Construction America (South America Division) (CCASA).
Please note there is a difference between the Chinese government and China Construction (CSCEC), parent company of CCASA.
True, China Construction is a state-owned company. But all state-owned companies in China have to operate on a commercial basis. The role of the government is nothing more than that of shareholder, which is to ensure added value to state assets. The government does not intervene in business decisions of the company.
That said, the Chinese government is unapologetic for supporting Chinese companies making investments in Jamaica that generate growth, create jobs, and bring win-win outcomes to both the company concerned, China Construction in this case, and Jamaica.
Second, even the company - China Construction - does not play a decisive role in the development project.
PROJECT TO SHOWCASE BEST OF JAMAICA
I was present at the signing ceremony of the aforementioned MOU. According to the MOU, China Construction agrees, at its own cost, to provide consulting services in the preliminary phase, while the GOJ determines the modality for the execution of the project. The Most Honorable Andrew Holness, prime minister of Jamaica, promised at the signing ceremony that this would be a partnership, everything would be done according to Jamaican laws, and the project would be a showcase of the best of Jamaica.
Zheng Xuexuan, vice-president of China Construction who signed the MOU, told me in person that his company, if given the opportunity of joining the project, would certainly wish to partner with the Government and industry of Jamaica. He denied that China Construction was in any position of knowing better than Jamaicans what Jamaica wants and would, of course, adopt an approach of maximum possible localisation.
FIVE PRINCIPLES OF PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE
Third, the claim that China "could place instruments to wiretap" the Parliament building is really frightening. Can the author guess in what scenarios China would want to 'wiretap' Jamaican Parliament?
Ever since the foundation of the People's Republic, China has always followed an independent foreign policy based on a stated 'Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence', namely, mutual respect for each others' sovereignty and territorial integrity; mutual non-aggression; non-interference into each others' internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful co-existence.
China has no interest in other countries' internal affairs, be it a friendly country like Jamaica or another country less friendly. I know some forces have been accusing China of doing what they themselves have actually been doing, but none of these accusations has been substantiated.
Besides, even if the Chinese wanted to place wiretapping instruments, how could they possibly do it? The modality of the project will be determined by the GOJ, design will be a joint venture, Jamaican workers will be working side by side, and every phase of the project will be inspected by the Jamaican side. To worry that the Chinese 'could place instruments to wiretap' the Jamaican Parliament is an insult to the intelligence quotient of Jamaicans and the wisdom of the Chinese.
The author reminds the reader that "the world is built on alliances" to warrant his worry of wiretapping. This, however, does not apply to China. As aforementioned, China follows an 'independent' foreign policy. We believe in partnerships, not alliances. We make our judgement on cases based on their own merit instead of the liking of an 'ally'.
Finally, I do appreciate the author's promotion of closer China-Jamaica ties such as those in tourism and education. I am sure more Jamaicans will realise that China longs for friendship and partnership with Jamaica, and Chinese contribution to the development of Kingston will be no infringement on Jamaican national pride.
- Niu Qingbao is the Chinese ambassador to Jamaica.