A prosperous China is Jamaica and the Caribbean's best friend
SINCE the implementation of open and reform policy in 1979, China has taken into account economic development, social progress and environmental protection as a whole.
In terms of economic development, China's GDP has grown at an annual average rate of 9.9 per cent for the past 34 years, helping more than 200 million people out of poverty. We are among the first countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living below the poverty line.
Because of China's strict system of land and water resource management, we have been able to feed 1.3 billion people using less than 10 per cent the world's arable lands and 28 per cent of the world's per-capita water resources.
In terms of social construction, China is conducting comprehensive free compulsory education, and has set up a basic pension and medical security system.
Although China has honoured its commitment to its own people and the international community, it is still a developing country, and still has a long way to go.
In spite of the distance, China is also proud of its long history of friendly relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.
Being a staunch supporter of the concept of sustainable development, China conducted wide-ranging co-operation projects with Latin America and the Caribbean. In fact, in 2008, the Chinese Government issued its Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean, and proposed to build a comprehensive and co-operative partnership. It was well received by the region's countries.
Since 2001, two-way trade has been growing at an average annual rate of over 30 per cent, reaching US$241.5 billion last year. The result is that now, China is Latin America's second largest trading partner and a major source of investment.
Our co-operation in finance, resources, energy, infrastructure, high technology, agriculture, and other fields has also expanded; and cultural and people-to-people exchanges have deepened.
This year, as Jamaica celebrates its 50th anniversary of Independence, we are observing the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Jamaica.
Over the past 40 years, friendly partnership for common development between China and Jamaica has deepened. High-level exchanges between us have become closer. In 2009 and 2011, Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping and Vice-Premier Hui Lingyu visited Jamaica. In return, the Jamaican prime minister visited China.
On the principles of equality, mutual benefit and common development, our bilateral economic co-operation has proven fruitful. China is now Jamaica's fourth largest trading partner since 2009. In 2011, the two-way trade totalled US$375 million, an increase of 56.6 per cent compared with 2010.
The Chinese Government provides substantial grants and concessional loans to Jamaica for infrastructural development.
Chinese companies are also attracted by the potential market of Jamaica and have started to invest in sugar production and road construction, which create thousands of jobs for Jamaicans.
Our co-operation on culture and education has also expanded. In February this year, the China Chongqing singing and dancing troupe visited Jamaica and was warmly received by thousands of Jamaicans.
Many Jamaican students are currently learning Chinese language and culture at the Confucius Institute at the University of the West Indies, and this year, the Chinese Government will offer seven full scholarships to Jamaican students to study in China.
China, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are all developing countries. Our common interests and mutual needs are growing, and our enterprises and peoples are more eager to strengthen exchanges and co-operation.
Stronger co-operation and mutual reliance between us will serve the fundamental interests of our peoples. A prosperous China is the best friend of Jamaica and other Caribbean countries.