On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Jamaica-China Friendship Association, I have the pleasure to extend my warmest congratulations to the Association for its great achievements.
Since its inception 30 years ago, the Jamaica-China Friendship Association has been devoting itself to the promotion of friendship between the peoples of China and Jamaica. Under the successive outstanding leadership including the past Presidents Mr. Sam Wong Chew Onn and late Mr. Maurice Tenn as well as the current President Mrs. Joyce Wong Chew Onn, whose presidencies have coincided with my tenure of office in Jamaica, the Association has consistently engaged itself in many people-to-people exchange programmes aiming at introducing China to Jamaican people. In recent years, the Association has been organizing delegations to visit China on a regular basis and it has kept a tradition to hold, among other things, the annual parties to celebrate the Chinese New Year and the Chinese National Day. Such activities have greatly deepened the understanding and friendship between China and Jamaica.
China and Jamaica are geographically far away from each other, but they have enjoyed a long history of friendly contacts. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1972 and especially in recent years, China and Jamaica have forged an all-round friendly partnership, as evidenced by frequent exchanges of high-level visits, increasing bilateral trade and economic and technical cooperation, active cultural and sports exchanges and mutual support in international affairs.
In the political area, the mutual understanding, mutual trust and friendship between China and Jamaica have been steadily enhanced. Both sides agreed to establish a "Friendly Partnership for Common Development" during the visit to Jamaica by Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong in February last year. The opening of the Jamaican Embassy in Beijing in July last year was an important indication of our relationship growing from strength to strength. At the recent Beijing Consultations between the Foreign Ministry of China and the ministries of foreign affairs of the Caribbean countries having diplomatic relations with China, including Jamaica, the two sides agreed to strengthen political dialogue and consultations and cooperation in both bilateral and multilateral areas.
Our economic and trade cooperation also enjoyed rapid and steady advancement. China has become Jamaica's 4th largest trading partner and Jamaica continues to be China's largest trading partner in the English-speaking Caribbean region. According to Chinese statistics, trade volume between our two countries reached US $325.07 million in 2005. In the first nine months this year, the trade volume hit US$ 410.16 million, a 61.7% increase over the same period last year. 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, highlighted by the Greenfield Cricket Stadium in Trelawny and the Sligovile Sports Complex in St. Catherine as well as the Convention Center in Montego Bay which is expected to start soon. It is hoped that our two sides will soon be able to sign off on such major projects as the rehabilitation of the Jamaican railway system and the construction of the Jamaican telemedicine network etc.
Some new areas of cooperation between China and Jamaica have been explored recently with more exchange programs carried out in the fields of media, culture, education, sports, justice and military. The friendly relationship between our two countries is now running on the fast track and will unfold itself into a brighter future.
Over the past 30 years, members of the Association have shown great interest in and high enthusiasm for the development of the friendly relations between China and Jamaica. It is my sincere hope that with increased support from members of the Jamaica-China Friendship Association, our bilateral relations will grow more speedily in the days to come.
I wish the Jamaica-China Friendship Association greater successes in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the peoples of China and Jamaica.