China urged to boost ties with Ja­maica

Head of Caribbean state on six- day visit; meets top lead­ers in Bei­jing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By PU ZHENDONG puzhen­dong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Thriv­ing Sino-Ja­maican re­la­tions should not be limited to eco­nomic part­ner­ships, but ex­tended to global is­sues, the vis­it­ing Ja­maican prime min­is­ter said on Fri­day.

Por­tia Simpson-Miller, 68, who is on a six-day of­fi­cial visit to China start­ing on Tues­day, held sep­a­rate talks with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang.

“The meet­ings were good, and we had dis­cus­sions on a num­ber of bi­lat­eral and in­ter­na­tional is­sues. The Pres­i­dent spoke to us very clearly on China’s sup­port of Ja­maica and of the Caribbean states”, she said in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with China Daily.

A Ja­maican govern­ment of­fi­cial said that dur­ing the meet­ings, China promised to launch a ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment pro­gram worth $300 mil­lion in Ja­maica, among other pledges to build in­sti­tu­tions ben­e­fit­ing chil­dren and Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes. China also agreed to pro­vide a $164,000 grant to Ja­maica.

“Ja­maica is grate­ful for China’s long­time help and sup­port, and is will­ing to strengthen com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­or­di­na­tion with China, to jointly cope with cli­mate change and other global chal­lenges,” Simp­sonMiller said.

As Ja­maica’s only and first fe­male prime min­is­ter, Simpson-Miller was ranked by Time mag­a­zine as one of the 100 Most In­flu­en­tial Peo­ple in the World in 2012.

She said that the pri­or­ity of the trip was to seek busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in China and to en­cour­age more Chi­nese in­vestors to go to Ja­maica, adding that the del­e­ga­tion also met Chi­nese busi­ness lead­ers from the China De­vel­op­ment Bank and other com­pa­nies.

“Ja­maica has a num­ber of ar­eas that need de­vel­op­ment, like the air­port and lo­gis­tic hubs,” she said, adding that she hopes that Chi­nese in­vestors find op­por­tu­ni­ties in agri­cul­ture, tourism and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Simpson- Miller said that ties be­tween the two coun­tries should tran­scend the eco­nomic level and ex­tend to global con­cerns, in­clud­ing cli­mate change.

“China can use its pow­er­ful voice glob­ally in the UN or other in­ter­na­tional fo­rums, ex­press the con­cerns for the world to pay at­ten­tion to the is­sue,” she said.

“It is not some­thing that only af­fects China and Ja­maica. We have been push­ing it not only in Ja­maica, but in Caribbean coun­tries as well. We want a global re­sponse to cli­mate change,” she added.

China es­tab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions with Ja­maica in 1972. The is­land is China’s big­gest trade part­ner in the Caribbean re­gion, with bi­lat­eral trade at $817 mil­lion.

“Ja­maica started a re­la­tion­ship with China 40 years ago, when it was not fash­ion­able. As a small de­vel­op­ing coun­try, Ja­maica has al­ways been sup­port­ive of the one-China pol­icy. Ja­maica never did wa­ver, and we will con­tinue our sup­port,” she said.

She re­called Xi’s trip to Trinidad and Tobago in June, say­ing that the Caribbean states have al­ways held China in high re­gard, and have al­ways co­op­er­ated and worked well with the coun­try over the years.

Dur­ing that trip, Xi met lead­ers from the Caribbean states and re­newed China’s pledge to sup­port their de­vel­op­ment by step­ping up ini­tia­tives from the third China-Caribbean Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Fo­rum, which was held in 2011.

Simpson-Miller said she met Xi in Trinidad and Tobago, and ap­pre­ci­ated the con­cept of the “Chi­nese dream”, which was pro­posed by Xi to high­light the shared dream of the Chi­nese peo­ple to re­ju­ve­nate their coun­try.

“Ja­maicans have a dream as well, of our peo­ple unit­ing as one Ja­maican fam­ily, shap­ing the fu­ture of Ja­maica to­gether,” she said. “I think the two dreams share sim­i­lar spir­its.”

Simpson- Mi l l e r a l so re­vealed that the two coun­tries are im­prov­ing visa poli­cies to boost tourism.

“We want Chi­nese tourists to visit Ja­maica and Ja­maicans to be able to visit China,” she said.

“Ja­maica is a very beau­ti­ful is­land, and is world­wide re­garded as the pre­cious di­a­mond of the Caribbean Sea, with warm and hos­pitable peo­ple.”

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Por­tia Simpson-Miller, Ja­maica’s prime min­is­ter

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