Zheng Qingdian, Contributor
ON NOVEMBER 21, 1972, Jamaica became one of the first Caribbean countries to knot diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China. Today marks the 40th anniversary.
The year 1972 is a landmark of long-standing friendship between the people of China and Jamaica. The first group of Chinese set their feet on Jamaica in 1854.
They earned a good reputation by working hard and blended well with local people.
Finally wave after wave of Chinese immigrants became an integral part of the Jamaican society. Their diligence contributed greatly to the Jamaican economy, and their unique culture enriched Jamaican culture, and helped it to be more diversified.
Since 1972, the bilateral relations between China and Jamaica has progressed steadily and evolved into a close and trustable friendship, brotherhood and partnership based on the principle of equality and reciprocity.
The government-to-government relations between the two countries feature mutual respect, mutual assistance and equality. The Chinese government has been relentless in supporting Jamaica's efforts in nation-building and economic development. Chinese and Jamaican leaders have deepened their mutual trust with exchange of visits.
Economic and trade cooperation is the backbone of China-Jamaica relations, with numerous agreements and projects in trade, investment, tourism, agriculture and infrastructure accomplished over the years.
Our trade volume has leaped by 375 folds from less than US$1 million to US$375 million. Landmarks of our cooperation flourished all over the island, ranging from Trelawny Cricket Stadium to Montego Bay Convention Centre, from the Runaway Bay economic housing project to Palisadoes Shoreline project, which not only helped to elevate the welfare of the Jamaican people, but also bears everlasting testimony to China-Jamaican partnership.
People-to-people exchanges always remain the cornerstone of China-Jamaica partnership. Numerous Chinese art troupes have visited Jamaica, and Jamaican reggae groups have performed for Chinese pop fans.
The Chinese government has awarded scholarships to 150 Jamaican young people, and 430 Jamaicans have received training in various subjects. The Confucius Institute at the University of the West Indies is branching out to high schools with Confucius classes, familiarising Jamaican students and the general public with Chinese culture.
Last year, Peace Ark, a Chinese hospital ship, provided volunteer medical service to about 1,500 Jamaican people with their impeccable skills and professionalism.
If you ask me why the China-Jamaica partnership has remained vigorous over the last 40 years, weathering all storms and defying any disturbances, I would say that the following factors played their role.
Firstly, the two countries have adhered to the principles of peaceful coexistence. We treat one another with respect and on equal footing. Second, the cooperation between the two countries have delivered tangible benefits for the people and the economies, which, third, won the hearts of both peoples to support China-Jamaica partnership. Last, the two countries generally support one another in international affairs, both advocating for the interests of developing countries, and for world peace and development.
The above experience shall be cherished, carried on and further developed for generations of Chinese people and Jamaican people to come. As our diplomatic ties turned 40 years old, both countries are standing at a new starting point with plenty potential for further cooperation. China is ready to continue to join hands with Jamaica in keeping high-level exchanges and deepening political trust, exploring new frontiers of cooperation, consolidating the ongoing projects, promoting people-to-people contact and enhancing our mutual support in international affairs.
China is ready to continue to assist Jamaica in better weathering the lingering world economic storm. A new chapter of China-Jamaica friendship is waiting for us to turn, and let us turn it hand in hand for a greater common development.
Zheng Qingdian is ambassador of People's Republic of China to Jamaica.