|Address at the 68th National Day Reception|
Address at the 68th National Day Reception
Niu Qingbao, Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica
September 28, 2017
Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson-Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
The Hon. Peter Philips, Leader of the Opposition
The Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Finance
The Hon. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health
The Hon. Fayval Williams, Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance
The Hon. Tom Tavares-Finson, President of the Senate
The Hon. Pearnel Charles, Speaker of the House of Representatives
His Excellency Kenneth Hall, former Governor-General
The Most Hon. Edward Seaga, former Prime Minister
Senators and Members of the House of Representatives
His Worship Delroy Williams, Mayor of Kingston
His Worship Homer Davis, Mayor of Montego Bay
Major General Rocky Meade, Chief of JDF
Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
My Fellow Chinese
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Very good evening!
Let me start by thanking you for joining my wife and myself to celebrate the 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China!
I wish to take this opportunity to heartily congratulate Jamaica for her 55th anniversary of independence. Happy 55th!
May I also remind you that this is the 45th year of China-Jamaica diplomatic relations. Happy 45th to us all! 45th anniversary is the subject of another event later this year. Today, let me focus on 2017.
2017 has been an eventful year.
It has been eventful for China. Many events that took place and will take place in China have global impact. Let me name a few.
First, in early March, the National People's Congress endorsed the Government Work Report that set economic goals for this year: GDP growth rate of around 6.5%, 11 million jobs created to keep urban unemployment rate below 4.5%, and CPI kept at 3%. All these are to be realized while unit GDP energy is reduced by 3.4%, requiring reduction of steel and iron production by 50 million tons and coal by 150 million tons. China delivered more than expected. The first six months recorded a GDP growth of 6.9% and the creation of 7.35 million new jobs--2/3 of the whole year's mission accomplished. I don't have statistics of coal and steel production. But if history is of any reference, last year we aimed to reduce steel and iron production by 45 million tons but we actually reduced it by 65 million. We aimed to reduce coal production by 250 million tons but we did 290 million.
Second, in mid May, The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was successfully convened in Beijing. Attended by 29 heads of state or government and 1600 representatives from more than 140 countries and 80 plus international organizations, the forum ushered in a new stage of translating the Belt and Road Initiative from vision to action and from planning to implementation. President Xi Jinping elaborated China's wishes to build the Road and Belt into a road of peace, prosperity, openness, innovation and civilization. He committed China to conducting friendly cooperation with all participants of the Belt and Road Initiative, loans of 380 billion RMB for infrastructure, production and financial cooperation with B&R participants. Grants of 60 billion RMB will be supplied in the next 3 years to support projects in the area of people's livelihood in developing countries that partner with China on Belt and Road Initiative. During the forum, 270 concrete agreements were reached in 76 categories in all 5 areas of policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds.
Belt and Road Initiative is President Xi's brainchild. But China has no intention to use the B&R as a tool to advance any geopolitical agenda. According to President Xi himself, the B&R is a platform for practical cooperation. It is an initiative for interconnected development which calls for extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and helps achieve win-win cooperation for all participants. It will create new opportunities for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Third, in early September, The BRICS Summit in Xiamen had global significance as well. As a cooperation platform with global influence, BRICS cooperation is more than just five member countries. It carries the expectations of emerging markets and developing countries and indeed the international community. During the summit, China held the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries. Leaders of BRICS countries plus Egypt, Mexico, Thailand, Tajikistan and Guinea, discussed together the undertakings of international development cooperation, agreed to establish extensive development partnerships and speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and sent out a strong signal of deepening South-South cooperation and global development cooperation. Leaders of all countries agreed to forge the "BRICS Plus" cooperation pattern, jointly walk out a sustainable development road featuring innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing, and inject more positive energy into the world economic growth and common development of various countries.
The fourth is upcoming, namely the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China from October 18th. Coinciding with the decisive stage of China's drive to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the coming 19th CPC National Congress will draw the blue print for development of the CPC and China in the next 5 years or more. It will also provide answers on such issues as how China will further conduct international cooperation and make its due contribution to world peace, stability and prosperity. It is a significant event in the political life of the Party and of China and, therefore, of the world.
2017 has been an eventful year in China-Jamaica relations.
Our two countries have frequent and active visits and exchanges at various levels and areas. There have been three ministerial visits either way and Minister Montague of National Security is still on his way back to Jamaica. Early this year, Mr Ning Jizhe, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, visited Jamaica and signed a bilateral agreement on production capacity cooperation. Last week, Mr Zhi Shuping, Miniser of AQSIQ, visited and signed agreements to allow for Jamaican export of seafood to China. Most important among all incoming visits this year, HE Yang Jiechi, State Councillor, paid an official visit to Jamaica on September 11. He had a courtesy call on HE the Most Hon. Patrick Allen, Governor-General, and had very friendly and fruitful meetings with Prime Minister Holness and Leader of the Opposition Dr. Philips.
Economic cooperation is ever expanding. Kupius Bridge in central Clarendon was completed. Marcus Garvey Avenue in Kingston was upgraded. Other works of significance in infrastructure will soon start. Chinese companies work hard to satisfy their Jamaican customers, government and private alike. They are hiring and training more Jamaican workers than ever. Our trade will be more balanced with Jamaican seafood exports starting soon. Jamaican fishermen have to work harder meet Chinese demands for Jamaican lobsters!
China continues to provide assistance where possible. Construction of the office building of MFAFT is proceeding as planned. Two kindergartens in Kingston and Morant Bay will hopefully be open to children in the communities. Preparation is underway for the construction of the Western Children's Hospital to start next year. Our bilateral cooperation on human resources training is expanding. 500plus offers of short-term training in various fields have been taken this year, a big increase over last year's 260.
Sports and education: Minister Olivier Grange and I are working to have Chinese synchronized swimming and badminton coaches to come to Jamaica as a pay back to Jamaica's generosity in training 10 Chinese sports coaches and students. China offers to Jamaican students around 10 university scholarships in various subjects. China is genuinely thankful that Jamaica has kindly offered 10 scholarships at the Caribbean Maritime University. Talking about CMU, today is a big day for CMU. Happy Charter Day, CMU!
Cultural exchanges are flourishing. Two prominent Jamaican painters Peter Lewis and Brian McFarlane have workshops in China. More Chinese performing troupes are visiting Jamaica this year than ever. Today's performance, staged by Shenzhen Art Troupe, a highly professional and accredited troupe from Shenzhen, ancestral home to many Chinese Jamaicans, is specially sent by the Ministry of Culture of China for this occasion. Before enjoying their wonderful performance, let me say a special thank-you to the sponsor of this troupe, JISCO Alpart.
JISCO ALPART. Since last year, JISCO has invested a total of 500 million USD in the project of Alpart Alumina Plant. They started production in June, after 8 long years of closure. I am proud to disclose that the reopening of Alpart has created more than 730 full time jobs, in addition to more than 500 contracted jobs, revived the local community and generated economic growth. I learned that JISCO took pleasure in contributing to the local communities by providing more than 80,000USD in education, health and agriculture. JISCO has so far been supporting more than 1200 students, granting funds to some 30 schools in their effort to upgrade education facilities and 28 schools in Essex Valley in their PE activities. JISCO is also partnering with community councils by offering such jobs as descaling, gardening, cleaning and railway crossing guards in the range of about 350 persons on rotation, and has paid more than 1.40 million USD. By making good use of the resources it has, JISCO is also providing water supply for free to the local residents, schools, clinics, police station and fire departments. JISCO wants to be part of Jamaica and I appeal to you to help JISCO better integrate and better serve Jamaica.
To conclude, I propose a toast,
To the 68th birthday of the People's Republic of China,
To the China-Jamaica friendly partnership,
To the prosperity of Jamaica and well-being of Jamaican people,'
To the health of each and every of you,