Mr. Lee Bailey, President of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East and Mrs. Bailey,
The Hon. Clarence Nelson, Custos of St. James and Mrs. Nelson,
Friends from the Rotary Club,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to accept the invitation to address members of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East tonight. Let me first of all thank President Bailey and all of you for having me here.
I am glad to note that the Rotary Club has done a great deal in providing health and educational assistance to the needed. Your persistent dedication and remarkable achievements are greatly appreciated by the local community.
Today, I would like to talk about two topics which I presume are of some interest to you, namely the development of China and Sino-Jamaican relations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you may already know, China has a history of more than five thousand years of civilization. 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. China produced in its history many outstanding philosophers, thinkers, statesmen, strategists, scientists, writers and artists and left us numerous volumes of literature. Particularly, China's four great inventions of paper-making, gunpowder, printing and compass had once changed the face of the world. China had been a world leader in science and technology for one thousand years until the 15th century.
However, after the 16th century, China had gradually lagged behind the rest of the world. In the 19th century, China fell a prey to brutal foreign aggressions and was subsequently relegated to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal country. That was why many Chinese fled the country at that time to make a living on foreign land. In 1854, the first group of Chinese migrated to Jamaica as indentured labour.
Since 1949, when the People's Republic was proclaimed, and particularly since the implementation of reform and opening-up policy pioneered by late Mr. Deng Xiaoping in 1978, the Chinese people have finally hit on the road to success. From 1978 to 2005, China had averaged the annual economic growth rate at 9.4%, bringing its GDP from US$147.3 billion to US$2.226 trillion. Its trade volume had increased from merely US$20.6 billion to US$1.42 trillion. China is now the 4th largest economy and the 3rd largest trading nation in the world. By the end of last year, China's foreign reserve had reached US$819 billion, ranking the 2nd globally. China leads the world in the output of many important agricultural and industrial products, including steel, coal, cement, chemical fertilizer, TV sets, grain, and etc. Its information, biological, space technology and other high-tech industries have developed rapidly. The world's 2nd largest telecommunication network has been established in China, which connects all parts of the country and rest of the world. China is the world's biggest mobile phone market with over 400 million users. The number of China's netizens has reached 100 million, ranking the 2nd in the world.
I was often asked by some Jamaican friends: What is the secret for China's success? I told them, no secret at all, but we do have some experiences. Here I would like to share with you my insight into the whys.
First, to have competent leadership with vision to build the country. In 1978, the chief architect of China's reform late Mr. Deng Xiaoping re-established the ideological line of emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts, made the historic decision to shift the focus of the work of the state from "class struggle" to economic construction, and adopted the policy of reform and opening-up. These creative ideas and policies have provided a strong theoretical guidance to the continuous development of China. In the early 1980s, based on his objective assessment of China's national conditions, late Mr. Deng designed a "three-step" development strategy for the country's modernization program. In the first step, China was to double its GDP by the end of 1990 to meet the people's basic needs for food and clothing. This step was completed in time. In the second step, the GDP of 1990 would be doubled by the end of the 20th century to ensure the people a comfortable life. This step was completed in 1995, 4 years ahead of schedule. Under the successive leaderships of Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, the Chinese people are now marching confidently towards the goal of the third step, according to which, China will be a moderately developed country by the middle of the 21st century. To build China into a strong, prosperous, democratic and culturally advanced socialist country, leaders of China have mapped out a development plan for every five years. The year 2006 is the first year of China's 11th Five-Year Plan. Leaders of China always have a long-term vision about the country, and they know exactly where they are leading the people up to.
Second, to pursue the policy of reform and opening-up. In the past 28 years, China's reform and opening-up have started from rural areas to the cities, from the economic field to the political, cultural, and social areas. The essence of this policy is to mobilize all positive factors, emancipate and develop the productive forces, and respect and protect the freedom of the Chinese people to pursue a better life. For quite some time in the past, China had a structure of highly centralized planned economy. With deepening restructuring towards the socialist market economy and progress in the development of democratic politics, there has been gradual lifting of the improper restrictions on people's freedom in the choice of occupation, mobility, investment, information, travel, faith and lifestyles. This has successfully sparked the tremendous enthusiasm and creativeness of the people, stimulated the vigorous boosting of the economy, and helped improve the living standards of the Chinese people.
Third, to combine foreign experiences with China's national conditions. China, as a latecomer in modernization, has a real need to learn from the other countries. Opening up, as we understand it, means not only developing international exchanges, but also learning from other countries' experiences. The developing countries in particular should adopt the advanced technologies and management expertise from the developed ones, so as to avoid pitfalls and setbacks. However, blind copying would lead nowhere and the national conditions should always be taken into consideration. For example, in the process of transforming from planned economy towards market economy, we did not take the extreme and radical measures like "shock therapy". What the former Soviet Union had done in its reform efforts proved that such measures would only give "shock" and provide no "therapy". Instead we adopted a gradual approach in our reform according to the specific conditions in China. China will firmly follow the path of development consistent with its national conditions.
Fourth, to achieve a well-balanced relationship among reform, development and stability. These three elements are interdependent and each one is indispensable. Development is the key to solving all the problems and, as I mentioned in the 2nd point, reform is the engine for development. Reform and development provide important guarantees for social stability, while stability is the prerequisite for development and reform. Without social stability, there is no way of carrying out reform and opening-up, let alone economic development. Just as late Mr. Deng Xiaoping said, "Without a stable environment, nothing could be accomplished." This is a valuable lesson we have learned from our past experience. From the late 1950s to late 1970s, the country's development was hampered for nearly two decades due to many political movements such as Anti-Rightist Campaign, Great Leap Forward, the Great Cultural Revolution and etc. China will continue to strive for a proper balance among development speed, dimension of reform and social bearing capacity in order to realize the perfect integration of reform, development and stability.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
While we are pleased with the widely acclaimed achievements, we keep a sober mind that there are still many problems calling for solutions. China has a huge population of 1.3 billion, a weak economic foundation and uneven development between regions, and consequently the country has the mounting pressure arising from population, resources and environment. Despite the rapid growth in economy, China's per capita GDP of US$ 1,700 still trails behind the 100th in the world. There are still 26 million people living below the poverty line in China's vast rural areas, while 22 million urban residents live on minimum living allowance.
Our approach to address the above challenges is to uphold the scientific approach in achieving economic and social development of the country. First, to promote a new pattern of industrialization, endeavor to overhaul the economic structure, quickly transform the ways of economic growth by improving its quality and efficiency, vigorously develop the circular economy and build a resource-efficient and environment-friendly society. Second, to build a socialist harmonious society by seeking balance between urban and rural areas, between lagging regions in the west and northeast of China and the more prosperous coastal regions, and between economic development and population growth, resource availability and environment protection.
History has eloquently proved that the road that China has chosen is the only right one for the country. The Chinese people feel hopeful for the future of the country. I am confident that China's development will not only benefit the Chinese people, but also provide a wide-spectrum of growth opportunities for all countries in the world, including Jamaica.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China and Jamaica are geographically far away from each other, but they enjoy a long history of friendly contacts. In 2004, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first group of Chinese in Jamaica. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1972, China and Jamaica have enjoyed an all-round friendly cooperation in the fields of politics, economy, culture, education, sports, and etc.
Recent years have witnessed frequent exchanges of visits between leaders of the two countries, which have greatly enhanced the mutual understanding, mutual trust and friendship between China and Jamaica. On the Chinese side, following Vice Premier Mme. Wu Yi's tour of Jamaica at the beginning of 2003, Vice President Zeng Qinghong paid a successful visit to Jamaica in February 2005.
And on the Jamaican side, following Minister K.D Knight's visit to Beijing in February 2004, Prime Minister P. J. Patterson made his second trip to China in June last year. The grand opening of the Jamaican Embassy in Beijing one month later was an important indication of our relationship growing from strength to strength. Jamaica will soon have a new Prime Minister. I certainly hope she can visit China to make acquaintance with Chinese leaders so that the personal contact between our leaders can be continued.
The economic and technical cooperation between China and Jamaica has expanded steadily and quickly. Jamaica has become China's largest trading partner in the English-speaking Caribbean region. According to Chinese statistics, trade volume between our two countries reached US $325.07 million in 2005. The China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum cosponsored by China and Jamaica in February last year has provided a new platform for more exchanges and cooperation between business circles from China and the Caribbean countries including Jamaica.
Furthermore, cooperative projects between the two sides have progressed smoothly. The construction of the Greenfield Cricket Stadium in Trelawny is in full swing and expected to complete by coming November. The Sligovile Sports Complex in St. Catherine had the ground-breaking ceremony just a week ago. It will be completed by next May. The first batch of Chinese pipes for the Water Systems Rehabilitation and Extension Project have arrived in Jamaica recently. Negotiation is underway between Jamaica's UDC and China's Complant on the building of the Convention Center in Montego Bay. This project comprises a convention center, an exhibition hall, a theatre, some shops and office spaces, etc., occupying an area of 18,336 square meters with a total construction cost at US$ 42 million. As far as I know, the Chinese side has finished the preliminary design and the project has been approved by the Jamaican Cabinet. I expect that the Jamaican Government will soon apply for the concessional loan for this project from the Chinese Government.
Another big project involving China is the rehabilitation of the Jamaican railway system. The railway measures 200 kilometers long from Kingston to Montego Bay with a total investment of US$310 million. The whole line will be completed in 30 months. The section between Kingston and Spanish Town will be finished in 12 months. That means this section can be put into operation and start making profits beginning from the 13th month after the commencement of the project. The technical proposal made by the Chinese side was submitted to Minister Pickersgill before the end of 2005. There are also other projects such as the construction of the Jamaican telemedicine network. The Chinese company responsible for the project right now is waiting for the decision made by various Jamaican ministries.
Considerable strides have also been made in cultural, educational, sports, media and other fields. In the cultural field, China's Yangzhou Puppet Theatre and Zunyi Acrobatic Troupe have made performance tours to Jamaica. Both art troupes gave performances to the people of this city.
Under the Chinese government scholarship program, several Jamaican students are studying at Chinese universities. In view of growing interest in learning Chinese language in Jamaica, the Chinese Government has sent a Chinese instructor to teach Chinese language at the University of the West Indies.
Two Chinese table tennis coaches are now in Kingston, training Jamaican national players. In November last year, at the invitation of the Chinese Athletic Association, Jamaican Olympic gold medalist and coach Mr. Donald Quarrie conducted a series of sprint training sessions for Chinese coaches and athletes in Guangzhou, China. Recently a Chinese badminton coach came to Jamaica to give a short-term training.
At the invitation of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, four journalists from the Gleaner and the Observer visited China in 2003 and 2005 respectively.
In February last year, China listed Jamaica as an approved tourist destination for its citizens.
In the past few years, China has provided military logistics assistance to Jamaica and also accepted military officers from Jamaica to take training courses in outstanding Chinese military academies. The visit to China by the Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin in July last year has added new impetus to the development of the friendly relations between our two militaries.
The call at Port of Kingston by the Chinese ocean research vessel "DAYANG YIHAO" and the visit to Jamaica by the Chinese Oceanic Delegation in October 2005 have opened up a new area of cooperation between our two countries. As a follow-up move, the State Oceanic Administration of China has recently agreed to provide assistance to the Jamaican side in the field of marine sciences.
Some provinces and cities in China have established sister-city or sister-province twinning relations with their counterparts in Jamaica, such as Shenzhen and Kingston, and Hangzhou and Montego Bay. These "people-to-people" exchanges have contributed a lot to promoting better understanding between our two peoples.
Besides, in the international arena, China and Jamaica hold many identical or similar positions, extend support to each other on some major issues and have conducted fruitful dialogue and cooperation in the United Nations and other international organizations.
Though different in social system and cultural and historical background, China and Jamaica have much in common. Both belong to the developing countries. We share the same past of bitterness and we face the common goal to develop economy and improve people's livelihood. To develop a mutually beneficial relationship is in the interest of our two countries and peoples. China and Jamaica have set themselves for further strengthening their bilateral relations through the establishment of the friendly partnership for common development. I can assure our Jamaican friends that China will remain a reliable development partner to Jamaica forever, and the concerted efforts by both sides will be rewarded by a stronger and more fruitful relationship between our two countries in the years ahead.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Being the 2nd largest city and tourism capital in Jamaica, Montego Bay has an important role to play in promoting China-Jamaica relations. In particular, Montego Bay is working with its Chinese sister-city Hangzhou of Zhejing Province to contribute to the ever-growing China-Jamaica friendship. I know that Mayor Donaldson is planning a visit to China soon and believe his visit to Hangzhou will further enhance friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two sides.
Friends, you are from all sectors of Montego Bay. I sincerely hope that you will continue to support and make your due contributions to the development of the Sino-Jamaican relations. I personally would like to work hand in hand with you to strengthen friendly exchanges and cooperation between Montego Bay and Hangzhou and between St. James Parish and Zhejiang Province, so as to enhance the friendship between the Chinese and Jamaican peoples and ensure the lasting and steady growth of China-Jamaica relations.
With these words, I now conclude my presentation and will be glad to take your questions.