THE 1st of October is celebrated as the Chinese National Day and these days the People's Republic of China has much to celebrate. Over the last quarter of a century China has transformed itself from an economically backward, politically isolated Communist country, feared by its neighbours, to an economic giant courted not only by its neighbours but the wider world.
China's rise, or more correctly, resurgence, is at the core of a process in which the centre of gravity of the global economy has shifted to Asia. One dramatic indicator of this shift in global economic power is the exploratory voyages by various European countries to China to convince them to purchase a sufficient amount of European bonds to alleviate the European debt crisis.
The rise of China has fundamentally changed the power configuration of the world, and China has accomplished this peacefully. History shows that global powers usually emerge after wars or economic depressions.
Britain's dominance in the 19th Century was brought to an end at the start of the 20th Century by two world wars and the Great Depression. The dominance of the United States was considerably reduced by a series of wars, in particular, the Vietnam War and the gradual decline of international competitiveness and the global economic crisis which started in 2008. The implosion of the Soviet Union and its empire followed from the economic inefficiencies of its Communist economy and the war in Afghanistan. China has avoided wars since the Korean War and some border skirmishes with India.
China's rise has been as a result of its spectacular and unprecedented economic growth in the last 20 years. Indeed, China saw its growth plummet from 32 per cent in 1920 to 5 per cent in 1952, only to surge to 11 per cent in 1998. Economic growth in China averaged 10 per cent per annum during the period 1980-2008. Given the projected continuation of China's rapid economic growth it could overtake the share of the US in world GDP by 2030.
Regrettably for us, the economic rise of China and the decline of Jamaica have coincided. Thankfully, China has become a great friend to Jamaica, a friend in time of need. China's development aid, while not entirely altruistic, has been invaluable to Jamaica in financing road repairs and infrastructural projects.
True, Chinese firms get the work, but without their financing there would be no work. The investment of a Chinese firm, Complant, in the sugar industry has revived the fortunes of a struggling industry which the Government could no longer prop up and which had not attracted local or Western investors.
Where Jamaica has failed to take advantage of its friendship with China is in not exporting more to the vast Chinese market and in not attracting tourist from the most rapidly growing source of tourism.
We salute the rise of China, as it is one of the world's great civilisations which provided vital technological contributions to mankind. We also commend her for her responsible role in global governance and in assisting developing countries with aid.
China has accomplished much despite its own internal problems such as the largest population in the world, rural-urban migration, environmental pollution, autocratic political systems, and limited human rights.
We believe that China will be an increasingly influential global power and look forward to continued friendship and economic cooperation.