Love 101FM Interviews Ambassador NIU Qingbao

Interviewer: Marvia Lawes, The Morning Watch, Love 101FM

Interviewee: His Excellency Ambassador NIU Qingbao

Date of Interview: June 1, 2017

Start time of interview: 07:35am

End time of interview: 08:00am


Interviewer: Good morning Ambassador NIU, thank you so much for joining us. Welcome.

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: Good morning moderator, how are you?

Interviewer: I am fine thank you, thank you so much for joining us.

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: Pleasure. First of all, greetings to all your listeners for the international children's day. I believe some children are also your listeners.

Interviewer: Yes, we have children and we thank you so much for remembering them and for sharing your thoughts with us. Thank you.

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: You're welcome

Interviewer: Ok. Could you tell our listeners as we all try to get greater understanding, we have heard Ambassador Bernal share just now on, you know, the history of China's engagement in the region and opportunities that exist, that are yet to be tapped into. So there is so much more to be explored. But could you tell us what is China's policy, just a summary of China's policy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: China would like to be a development partner with Latin America and the Caribbean, because both of us are developing countries in our regions. We are faced with similar stages of development and the need. This is the first need of course. And secondly, we are mutually complementary, not only we wish to share and cooperate but we also can, because of the nature of our complementarity, such as in the infrastructure area. China is quite experienced in building roads, bridges, highways and airports and we believe that many Latin American and the Caribbean countries need to upgrade their infrastructure, so in this area we can do a lot together. And in energy and natural resources, this area of land is a very rich one in natural resources, and I believe, we believe that these countries would like to make use of their energy and natural resources to better the life of their people. And of course, China is also quite strong in energy and resources, especially in new energy such as solar and wind power. These energies are clean, they help stop climate change and so we would also like to help Latin American and Caribbean countries to develop their renewable energy. And agriculture and manufacturing, they hire many people. So if we can better cooperate in these areas, we will not only be able to generate growth but more importantly to create jobs. Jobs are so important to all aspects of our life. And of course, we can also cooperate in the areas of financing. I believe many of your listeners are aware that China is fastly becoming a source of outbound investments. It is estimated that in the next 5 years, 700 billion US dollars of Chinese investments will find its way somewhere in the world. And I believe Latin America and the Caribbean are under-financed. They have the need to upgrade their infrastructure, they have their wish to grow, but probably money is somewhat a problem. So, China is willing to share what we have with our development partners.

Interviewer: Ok. We have been having the negative response and reactions dominating the media in recent times, as it relates to the modern relationships between China and the region, since I'd say the new foray into the region from around 2005 or perhaps earlier. You could speak to that in terms of the exact time. How long have you been in the Caribbean in recent years and what has been the feedback that you have been getting from the Nationals in the region, Ambassador NIU?

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: First of all, I've been here for a year and a half as Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica, and I recall China's relationship with this area dates back a long time. But in the past, it was mainly political interactions and people to people exchange, like Chinese communities in this region, they have made a great contribution to the local social, economic and cultural development. For example, the Chinese community in Jamaica. As for pragmatic cooperation in trade and investments, especially investments, it's relatively a new phenomenon, just in this century, since the beginning of this century, because in the old days even though China wanted to promote our investments and trade with this area, we were not resourceful enough. So now we want to do and we can do many things together to the benefits, mutual benefits of both China and this area. As for the media response, my impression is a little different. I have read something quite positive, and from my personal experience in Jamaica, the feedback I receive from government leaders, from people in the academia, from business people, scholars and people in the streets, people from all walks of life, the feedback is very positive. They are very happy to see trade and investments between China and Latin America grow, because this really bring tangible profits to both our partners.

Interviewer: Ok, one of the concerns that persons will have when we are engaging with what we consider to be superpowers, is that you get the feeling or some persons get the impression that there is a takeover, a covert takeover. Explain the pillars of your policy, so that individuals can understand, how, what is your intention, and you have set that out in a policy, what is your intention for the engagement, or that would govern the engagement of your relations in the Caribbean and Jamaica. Could you share those pillars with us?

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: Sure. First of all clarification. I have heard some remarks of China being the new superpower, but I think China is flattered. We are quite flattered, we are not a superpower, we are not nearly a superpower.

Interviewer: How do you see yourselves? How would you describe yourselves?

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: We are a developing country, because of just some basic facts, some fundamentals. China's per capita per GDP is about 8000US dollars. No other superpower or even other developing economies have a personal GDP so low. It is way below the world average, it's about two thirds of world average. Even though China is quite well resourced, but per capita wise every achievement minus by 1.3 billion is nothing, and every problem on China multiplied by 1.3 billion is a big issue. So, we do have many other problems and our difficulties, we are not nearly a superpower.

Interviewer: Then one would ask, Ambassador NIU, with all those challenges, how can you have so much expansion externally with so much challenges on the ground internally?

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: This I will not use expansion to describe China's presence, I would rather say a promotion of mutually beneficial cooperation. First of all, this is to China's benefit, China as such a large population, we are in a crucial period of development, where we cannot just close our doors, we have to depend on the whole world. The world in fact is interdependent on each other in today's world. Not only China, no other country can develop behind closed doors. This is the fundamental feature of China's policy, that is reform and opening up. We need to open our doors to other economies, we also need other countries' help in developing ourselves.

Interviewer: And we are going to be getting to that as we would like to hear your response as well on the opportunities that exist, and how we can tap into that, but you are going to share with us the pillars of the policy.

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: Yes, the pillars, openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefits, and of course all this cooperation is based on equality, mutual benefits and respect for each other. Like we have so many cooperation in this area. all this cooperation is based on equal footing. First, we talk to each other on equal footing whether we can do this, whether we can do that. And secondly, we jointly construct, we build these projects jointly. Nothing is a hundred percent Chinese or Jamaican, even includes the North South highway which was invested by a Chinese company, but without Jamaican input such projects would never be possible. Labour for example, for every Chinese worker on that construction site, there were at least three to four Jamaican workers.

Interviewer: Now, as we get into the involvement in Jamaica so far and in the Caribbean, what are the plans for the future relationships based on where we are with the greater openness, and inclusiveness and the mutual benefits, what are plans for the future based on the trends that we are seeing, loans, investments and so on?

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: Our cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean can go in many ways. This is of course the focus of the China's policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean. In this policy paper, eight categories of cooperation have been put forward as China's initiative, eight categories including thirty-nine areas of cooperation. These include, in the political area we should be friendly to each other and build mutual confidence, in economic and trade area we should work for each others profits, and there is something new in the policy paper, such as we can exchange our experience on social governance, we can exchange with each other on how to develop our industries, and something very new we can also cooperate on growing our new industries such as science and technology, technological innovation and information technology which is so crucial for any modern economy. We specially propose that we should have more people to people interactions, because only through people to people interactions, we can better understand each other. If we know each other, if we are friends with each other, we are more inclined to understand what the others are doing, and we are more likely to cooperate with each other. People to people contact also rids us of some wrong ideas, because if Jamaicans visit China, read Chinese, they study China through Chinese school, or through Chinese sources, they will not limit themselves to second hand information on China. I believe some of the perceptions of China being a super power or China is robbing Jamaican job opportunities are misunderstandings. If we talk to each other more, we will know that these cooperations are purely based on the principle of mutual benefits.

Interviewer: As we talk about earlier on, I was talking to Ambassador Bernal, and I asked the question about the opportunities that exist in China, where the region, the Caribbean and Jamaica can have the opportunity to expand to, or to move to, or to promote and to export and invest there as well. What are some of these opportunities, Ambassador NUI?

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: Let's start from the easier one, China is still in a fast-growing phase even though our rate of growth has slowed to 6.7%, but still China needs a lot of products and natural resources. Jamaica has bauxite, there is Alpart bauxite plant with Chinese investments. I believe China has a large demand for bauxite, alumina and finally aluminum from Jamaica. China has an ever expanding size of middle class, your Blue Mountain Coffee is very popular and household brand in China. I believe you are doing your best to meet the demand  in China on Blue Mountain Coffee and Rum. And in culture, of course more and more young people in China are becoming familiar with Reggae music, so this is something that we can do together. And China can learn a lot from Jamaica in track & field. Usain Bolt made history at the bird nest in Beijing. So, China is such a large market for smaller economies such as Jamaica. If this market can be utilized, you won't need to turn your eyes to another market, but still you need diversity of course that's sure.

Interviewer: And how do you manage, Ambassador NUI, the image of China overseas, especially to attract investors from places where the news might be that persons are fearful of working in a context, where they question the quality of the goods that are being produced. We are hearing more about the counterfeit goods that are coming out of China. Brands are questioning whether or not their brands are being ripped off. How do you manage that, and how do you get around in terms of education, helping persons, investors, what to do, how to manage, where those stories dominate and might be coloring their thinking, giving them a negative impression?

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: Firstof all, today's world is not perfect, China is not perfect. We do have fake products like any other countries. But I think it's not fair to exaggerate. Some commentators, some media would like to attract viewership. That's why headlines are quite eye catching, but these do not necessarily reflect the reality. That's why I promote education, cultural exchanges and above all people to people contact. If we have more exchanges of visits, people will know that "wow", well China is like any other country, it is fast growing, it also has so many other aspects. I should stress a vast majority of Chinese products and services are of first class, such as everyone can see the quality of North South highway. If all Chinese products are fake, this highway will never have attracted positive comments and praise from Jamaicans. I am quite confident of China's quality of products, but feel we need to improve further like any other country. So, I wish that people will not totally rely on media to know China. I encourage them to read Chinese documentaries, read Chinese stories, talk to the Chinese people.  

Interviewer: And that's why we are so happy that you are here talking with us this morning, and we are hearing directly from you. You know Ambassador NUI, no doubt you would have been faced with questions already about the 1200 acres of land, and you offered clarification, important clarification at the symposium. We would love you to share with our listeners, what are your thoughts about what is being said about the 1200 acres of land that has been transferred, and persons thinking that this is the Chinese government receiving this land?

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: Thank you for the opportunity to clarify as well. First of all, this has nothing to do with the Chinese government. The company is a state-owned company, but there is a difference between a government and a state-owned company. In China, the government does not intervene companies, even though they are state owned companies, in their commercial decision making. Companies are responsible for their investments, for their profits and for their losses. So this project is purely a commercial investment from a Chinese company. Land will not go to the Chinese government. And secondly, because this has to do with China, that's why I have done some research and talked to both sides of the story. That's why I know that the land is for the company to develop as a compensation to the building of the highway itself, because the highway itself is not economically viable, you need the highway, but you are under-financed. That's why any investors will have to be compensated by one form or another. In this case, the compensation is in the form of land, and of course the land is for commercial development, so that more economic activities can be generated, more taxes and revenues can be generated, more employment can be made. And of course, as to how the mechanism is to be followed, that is something Jamaican, and the Chinese government, the Chinese company have no way of knowing what the proper domestic procedure for the land to be transferred. Anyway, we have no interest to interfere into other countries internal affairs. That's another fundamental principle of China's foreign policy, non-interference into each other's internal affairs. And of course, the deal for the highway says that on the completion of the highway, land would be transferred to the company for further development, but the fact is the highway was completed March last year, but until now, land is not transferred. I think deal being implemented is the best-selling point of Jamaica's investment environment. Other potential investors will be encouraged by deals implemented.

Interviewer: Ambassador NIU, we are out of time, but we are really thankful for the opportunity to speak with you, and we look forward to talking with you again, and hearing more especially as it relates to the people to people interaction and the opportunities that exist there, we would love to hear from the Embassy about those matters as well and greater areas of cooperation. Thank you and have a great day.

Ambassador NIU Qingbao: Thank you very much and have a nice day. 

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