Jamaica deepens ties with China

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 12, 2019

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THE Government yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the People's Republic of China on that country's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to deepen cooperation and partnership between the two nations for economic development.

The BRI, now in its fifth year, is a new model of international development cooperation, promoting 'connectivity' across countries and regions.

Speaking at the signing yesterday afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said BRI provides a powerful framework to ensure that development cooperation brings shared benefits to China and its partners, including Jamaica.

She noted that over the past 47 years, Jamaica and China have forged a mutually beneficial and dynamic partnership, and currently enjoy a robust and dynamic cooperation programme. This has resulted in many tangible outcomes such as the acquisition of Alpart in 2016 by Chinese entity Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO), and the proposed development of an Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone alongside the JISCO/Alpart operations in Nain, St Elizabeth, as well as the completion of two state-of-the-art early childhood institutions.

Senator Johnson Smith also highlighted the execution of the Bright Journey Eye Care Mission, launched earlier this month and which is currently under way; the Western Children's Hospital Project; and annual scholarships and training programmes which have afforded hundreds of Jamaicans the opportunity to study in China and return home to contribute to national development; and the completion of the new foreign ministry building.

“Jamaica has decided to further strengthen and deepen the bonds of cooperation with China, by signing this MoU. In doing so, we join over 100 other countries and international organisations that have also decided to cooperate within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative,” she stated.

Through collaboration under the BRI, Jamaica and China will seek to deepen interaction to promote greater connectivity in the areas of trade, facilities and infrastructure; policy co-ordination; financial systems; and people-to-people connections.

The foreign affairs minister said that with yesterday's MoU signing, Jamaica and China must now identify specific proposals and develop a mechanism for projects and programmes for potential agreements.

The BRI is a development campaign which China plans to use to stimulate economic growth across Asia and Europe. China says that with the countries of the region being what it sees as a “natural extension” of one aspect of the BRI — the maritime silk road — it is willing to synergise its development strategies with those of the countries of the Caribbean region, under the BRI framework.

Counsellor for the Department of Latin America and Caribbean, Han Jing, has expressed the view that China and the region face common challenges, as despite its rapid socio-economic development over the past four decades, China is still a developing country. He was speaking with journalists from the region at a meeting at China's foreign affairs ministry in Beijing last year.


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