Linton P. Gordon, Guest Columnist
Ever since news broke that Chinese investors have shown an interest in Goat Islands, all sorts of experts have emerged to give their opinion on whether or not Goat Islands should be used for a logistics hub and whether we should allow Chinese to invest in Jamaica. Some of the opinions peddling about by these so-called experts border on insanity. Most unfortunately, a category of opinion givers has emerged who are blatantly racist as they seek to drum up an atmosphere of hate and dislike against Chinese, including those who are now operating businesses throughout Jamaica.
The Chinese who are doing business in Jamaica fall into two categories. There are those who are descendants of Chinese brought here as indentured labourers. Their foreparents were brought to Jamaica, in many instances against their will, but remained here and their descendants are now an integral part of the cultural and ethnic mix that makes Jamaica 'out of many one people'. There are also quite a number of Chinese who have come to Jamaica in recent times. It must be said of these Chinese that they are hard-working, law abiding citizens. They are no liability to the State. Instead, they can properly be described as persons who are involved in productive activities and are operating several businesses throughout Jamaica. These businesses are providing employment and create a multiplicity of economic activities which enure to the benefit of our country.
The persons who are encouraging anti-Chinese sentiments are mainly persons who are envious of the success of the Chinese. However, these same persons ignore the fact that the Chinese operate their businesses seven days per week and in most instances they open 'shop' from 7 a.m. and remain open until 7 p.m. or after. Several Jamaicans are not prepared to work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for seven days per week. And several of us complain that to work for such long hours, even in our own businesses, is slavery! Let us commend the Chinese for their discipline, organisation, entrepreneurship and the ethics of hard work for long hours that they are committed to. Let us learn from them and join them.
Rich countries welcome Chinese
While some of us are up in arms complaining that Chinese are going to take over the country and that we do not want Chinese investment, Germany, the economic powerhouse and logistics hub of Europe, is enticing and inducing Chinese logistic companies to come to Germany and to invest in Germany. Since the year 2000, over €725 million has been invested in Germany by the Chinese. The Germans are now taking steps to make it easier for Chinese to set up companies in Germany for the purpose of investing in Germany.
We must have seen the news recently of a number of ministers from Britain leading a strong delegation of British bankers and businessmen to China to seek investments from China. The British have invited a range of Chinese companies to come to Britain to invest in such areas as electronics, logistics, appliances and communication equipment. Britain has also decided to relax the requirements for Chinese to secure visas to visit Britain. It is said that the British are hoping to have over one million Chinese tourists visiting Britain by the end of 2015.
So here we have a situation where countries that are already rich, advanced and well developed are going all out for Chinese investment and Chinese tourists, while a set of pseudo-intellectuals are here in Jamaica peddling anti-Chinese views and encouraging our government to refuse investment from China. The Portia Simpson Miller administration has a duty to do all in its power to ensure that there are economic activities that will generate employment and bring about the betterment of the thousands of Jamaicans who are now below the poverty line. The persons fighting against Chinese investments are comfortable well-off Jamaicans. They can afford NOT to have Chinese investors coming to Jamaica. This is not the case for the majority of us.
The country cannot afford to reject the Chinese investment and we cannot afford to leave Goat Islands uninhabited when thousands of Jamaicans will benefit from an investment there. Let us balance environmental needs with the needs of the country. Let us balance the interests of iguanas, lizards and fish with that of hungry, starving, uneducated Jamaicans. The Government must act sensibly and prudently. There is no sense in attacking Chinese. They have done us nothing and there is a lot of good they can do for the country.
Linton P. Gordon is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.