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EDITORIAL - Government's sensible China policy

Published:Monday | February 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Among the most pragmatic and sensible actions of the Golding administration, despite the occasionally silly rhetoric in Opposition, has been to maintain Jamaica's mature and textured foreign policy, which is proving particularly useful during this country's economic crisis.

Last week's official visit by Prime Minister Bruce Golding to China, accompanied by a number of his key ministers, is a case in point. The delegation, it has been reported, signed agreements worth more than US$500 million (J$4.5 billion) in Chinese financing for projects in Jamaica, including housing, road repair and rehabilitation and shoreline protection. These deals are important to Jamaica, especially in the short term.

The island's economy is expected to decline by 3.5 per cent in the current fiscal year and the best estimate is that it will grow by half a percentage point in 2010-2011. But with the shortage of resources and limited room within which to manoeuvre, these projections can be easily derailed. It is important, therefore, that the Government fast-track all investment opportunities, including those from China.

As this newspaper pointed out a year ago when the Chinese vice-president, Xi Jinping, visited the island, it is important too that Kingston take a long-term view of its relations with Beijing and map a policy relevant to the changing nature of international relations.

Clearly, geopolitics is still a substantial part of relations between nations and remains a significant remit of diplomacy.

Economics and markets

But as Mr Golding's China visit demonstrated, in today's globalised world, international relations, with its variegated architecture, is largely consumed by economics and markets. And in this new paradigm, China, the world's fastest-growing economy, is a major player.

Jamaica, in this regard, has a strategic opportunity that it can, and ought to, exploit. Kingston established diplomatic relations with Beijing and adhered to a 'one China' policy long before China's emergence as a global economic power. And for nearly 40 years, Jamaica has, for the most part, maintained a principled and predictable foreign policy, unclouded by ideology and sphere-of-influence concerns.

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