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China's policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean enhances cooperation with Jamaica

Niu
Qingbao

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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China's new policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean is best elaborated in its Second Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), issued in November 2016 after President Xi Jinping's third visit to LAC in four years. This new policy, if implemented, is due to substantially expand and enhance the China-Jamaica friendly partnership for common development.

The Policy Paper's Contents and Highlights

The policy paper puts forward the general objective of China's policy on LAC. China wishes to build a new relationship with the LAC with five salient features, namely, sincerity and mutual trust in the political field, win-win cooperation on the economic front, mutual learning in culture, close coordination in international affairs, as well as mutual reinforcement between China's cooperation with the region as a whole and its bilateral relations with individual countries in the region.

We aim to bring the comprehensive and cooperative partnership to new heights by bringing the two sides into a community of shared future in which all countries join hands in development.

The policy paper is comprehensive. It puts forward 39 practical proposals to enhance China-LAC cooperation in the political, economic, social, cultural and people-to-people fields, on international collaboration, peace, security and judicial affairs, collective cooperation and trilateral cooperation. Newly proposed initiatives include exchanges of experience on governance and development, industrial investment and capacity cooperation and cooperation in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The policy paper emphasizes equality and mutual benefit. China is ready to share best practice of development with other countries, but we have no intention of interfering in other countries' internal affairs, exporting our own social system and model of development or imposing our own will on others. China insists on cooperation with LAC countries on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect. All countries can participate, contribute and benefit as equals.

The policy paper stresses openness and inclusiveness. China-LAC partnership neither excludes nor targets any third party. China is willing to carry out trilateral development cooperation in LAC countries, with countries outside the region and international organisations. Provided that such cooperation is proposed, agreed upon and dominated by LAC countries.

The policy paper has raised highly targeted cooperation proposals. In social aspects, proposals include exchanges in social governance experiences, cooperation on climate change and disaster reduction, dialogue and exchanges in poverty alleviation, cooperation in disease control, medical personnel training and improving medical facilities.

In the area of trade, efforts will be made to tap into the potential of speciality products, and to establish trade facilitation arrangements to properly handle frictions.

On investment, China encourages its enterprises to invest and start businesses in LAC countries, and promote production capacity cooperation. On industries, China wishes to expand and deepen cooperation in the fields of energy and resources. China encourages the public-private partnership (PPP) model and joint construction of industrial parks to promote inter-connectivity in the area of infrastructure in assisting LAC's industrial upgrading.

Policy Paper Creates New Opportunities

China and LAC countries, being similar in the stage and the philosophy of development, can bring opportunities to each other.

According to the World Economic Forum, LAC trade with China has increased 22 times since 2000 and China is now providing the LAC with more financing than the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank combined. Thanks to its complementary nature, China-LAC cooperation is getting ever more compound and diversified:

China is matchless in building infrastructure, solar and wind power generation and industrial parks. LAC countries badly need to upgrade their infrastructure, tap into their rich renewable energy for growth and environment, and create jobs through manufacturing.

China has offered US$35 billion in preferential loans to LAC and US$3 billion specifically to Caribbean countries. By efficiently using these financing on well selected sectors or projects, LAC countries can substantially improve productivity, generate growth and create jobs.

China is becoming a source of net FDI and will see an outbound FDI of at least US$750 billion in five years. This is something underfinanced LAC countries can cash in on.

How can Jamaica benefit?

China and Jamaica have been good friends since 1972 when we established diplomatic relations. In 2005, we decided to build a Friendly Partnership for Common Development. The Policy Paper will no doubt open more opportunities to China-Jamaica partnership, which will greatly benefit if we do the following:

First, let's build on mutual political trust. Exchanges of visits on national leader and ministerial levels enable us to draw on each other's experience in governance, better learn of each other's national development plan and sectoral policies so as to better serve and profit from each other. We shall also expand exchanges between our legislatures, political parties, local governments and younger generations, so as to enhance mutual understanding and mutual trust. After all, “Good fren' betta dan packet money”.

Second, let's further intensify our pragmatic cooperation. To fully tap its development potential, Jamaica needs to upgrade infrastructure, expand manufacturing, revive agriculture, and attract more foreign tourism. Well, China happens to be strong in all the above areas. In tourism, China is a source of 130 million travellers per annum. I see no reason why Chinese investors and tourists would not want come to Jamaica if they feel safe, welcome and comfortable doing business here.

There are big investment projects already, such as the CHEC-invested North-South Highway and JISCO-invested Alpart Aluminum Plant. To potential investors, Chinese or other countries, a smooth operation of the above projects, in accordance with pre-agreed deals, is a vote of confidence in the Jamaican investment environment more than anything else.

Third, let's encourage more exchanges in education, culture and in the people-to-people field. We need more cultural performances both ways. Degrees attained at the University of the West Indies, University of Technology and Caribbean Maritime Institute are recognised in China. The two sides are working to exchange language and science teachers at universities and high schools. China is offering more than 360 human resource training positions to Jamaica this year, 40 per cent more than last year. China is very grateful to Jamaica for training 10 Chinese sports coaches and students and for offering 10 scholarships at the Caribbean Maritime Institute.

Fourth, let's facilitate the deepening and expansion of our Friendly Partnership for Common Development by entering into institutional regimes, such as a bilateral free trade agreement, treaty of extradition and other cooperation on law-enforcement, and an agreement on the waiver of visas for all visitors. 2017 marks the 45th year of China/Jamaica diplomatic relations and is a perfect time to start the process of negotiation of these agreements.

As long as we are committed to expanding our friendly partnership for common development, we can find a way to accomplish our mission.

NIU Qingbao is China's Ambassador to Jamaica

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