IF we know what's good for us as a nation, we had better put an end to this foolish bickering over Chinese workers coming to Jamaica.
There is nothing to be gained by whipping up anti-Chinese sentiments, as if foreign investors were knocking down our doors to get in.
Every foreign investor relies on their tried and true expertise at the start of their projects in a new country, and it is usually a condition of bringing in their investment that a country accepts this expertise. Jamaican investors overseas demand the same thing.
Jamaica, last year, became China's top trading partner, and that country has committed to forming deeper business alliances with the island going forward, according to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who disclosed that trade between China and Jamaica tripled in the three years from 2009.
As clear indication of this commitment, the Chinese president feted a Jamaican delegation led by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on their five-day official visit to the Far East country recently.
Jamaicans who have been subject over the years to anti-Chinese propaganda — compliments of the Cold War hegemonistic battle between the East and the West — have greeted the increased inflow of Chinese economic resources with confusion and mixed feelings.
Many are loath to welcome a Communist country with open arms, but at the same time they feel they don't have a choice as the world economic recession increasingly choked off investments from our traditional partners, notably the United States and the United Kingdom. They also see even the mighty US and all the other powerful countries beating a path to Beijing.
It is clear that the Chinese are not wooing us just for our good looks, as beautiful as this island is. Like all economic powers before them, they are expanding their geopolitical interest and influence and, of course, watering their new-found wealth, not unlike the US after World War II with its Marshall Plan in Europe.
What we have to do, given our limited economic resource base, is to leverage whatever we have to get the best for our country, whether we are dealing with the US, UK, Canada, Caricom, or China.
So far, the Chinese have lived up to their pledge to be benevolent investors and they have not demanded of us anything that we are not prepared to give.
Their increased economic footprint in Jamaica over the last decade has come with billions of dollars in foreign direct investment to the island. Kingston is the Caribbean headquarters for China Harbour Engineering Company, which has been contracted to conduct major infrastructural projects in the country. Another huge Chinese investor, Complant, purchased three sugar factories and leased 30,000 hectares of cane-growing lands from the Government of Jamaica while committing to invest US$156 million in improvements in fields and factories over a four-year period.
In return, Jamaica has agreed to grant work permits to 1,741 Chinese nationals between April 2012 and July 2013. That represents 43 per cent of the 4,098 work permits issued during that period and is indicative of the level of Chinese investment in the country at this time, according to the Labour Ministry.
What's the hue and cry about?