|Speech by Ambassador Zhao Zhenyu at the Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville|
Dr. Herbert J. Thompson, President of the Northern Caribbean University,
Dr. Gilbert Allen, Custos of Manchester,
Mr. Dalton Yap, President of the Chinese Benevolent Association,
Teachers and Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I feel very honoured to be at NCU's annual Citizenship Awards Banquet tonight. I have heard of the City of Mandeville so much, but it was only after your Vice President Mrs. Gloria Roberts sent me a brief introduction material of NCU that I began to realize that this university is the oldest tertiary institution in Jamaica, and this university has cultivated many talented graduates not only for Jamaica, but also for other Caribbean countries. I know some of the excellent students will receive awards later tonight, so let me express my congratulations to them in advance.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the NCU for making "Chinese Expressions" as the theme of the banquet tonight and to all of you for readiness to expose yourself to the Chinese culture and the Chinese spirit. I know from the programme that some cultural items with a Chinese flavor have been arranged for tonight. I hope, to all of you, this event will become a valuable experience and a beginning of your appreciation to another great culture in the world.
With 5000 years of history, China is one of the four ancient civilizations in the world. Far back in the times of remote antiquity, the Chinese people already started to create its splendid culture that has influenced the human development in countries far beyond the Chinese boundaries. It shines in even greater brilliance in the world today. Here I just want to mention the four great inventions made by China in ancient times: papermaking, printing, gunpowder and the compass. It would be impossible for a historian to envision a history of civilization without contributions made by the Chinese people.
Over the past one and a half century, China has developed from a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country into an independent socialist country with initial prosperity. Especially over the past 27 years since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policy, China has made great achievements in economic growth with the growth rate averaging 9.4%. In 2004, China became the 6th largest economy in the world with its foreign trade volume setting a record high of US$ 1.1 trillion, making China the third largest trading nation globally. China is also the second largest foreign reserve holder in the world with over 200 billion US dollars.
Much to our satisfaction, China and Jamaica have enjoyed an all-round cooperation in the fields of politics, economy, culture, education, sports etc. During the recent visit to Jamaica by the Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong, our two countries agreed to establish a relationship of friendship and partnership for common development, which have elevated our relationship to a new high of strategic importance. The successful launching of the China - Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum co-sponsored by our two countries recently have further enriched the content of the strategic and cooperative relationship between China and Caribbean countries, Sino-Jamaican relations in particular. I believe that the above-mentioned events will give great impetus to the further development of Sino-Jamaican relations in the days to come.
Keeping in mind that most of you present today are teachers and students, I would like to say a few words about the development of higher education in China. Having fully recognized the importance of education, the Chinese government has formulated the strategy of "revitalizing the country via science and education" and gives top priority to education. Beginning from 1990's, China's higher education has been making considerable strides. The number of universities and colleges in China reached 1224 in 2001. The total number of university and college students in 2004 has exceeded 20 million, ranking the first in the world.
I am pleased to tell you that China and Jamaica have recently started bilateral educational exchanges. Under the Chinese government scholarship program, several Jamaican students are now studying at Chinese universities. At the same time, the strong growth of Sino-Jamaican relations in recent years has resulted in a great surge of enthusiasm for learning Chinese language in Jamaica. With the direct involvement of the Embassy staff, a Chinese language class has been organized by the Chinese Benevolent Association in Kingston. We are also expecting a Chinese language instructor coming to the University of the Western Indies in the near future.
I just briefly touch on these things here. I think my good friend Mr. Dalton Yap will tell you more about China and China- Jamaica relations. I'd like to, on behalf of the Embassy of China, thank you all for your interest in China.
As a habit in China, when someone pays the first visit to a friend, he should not go there empty-handed. Since time is too short for me to prepare something suitable for this occasion, I promise you to come back to the NCU later this year with a donation of some books on China to your library.
Finally, let me wish students study hard, keep fit and live up to the great expectations of your teachers, parents and your people.