Prime Minister Andrew Holness has assured the Jamaican public that the country’s relationship with China will grow stronger as successive governments have sought to strengthen multilateral ties with the Asian superpower.
Holness noted that China, as the second largest economy in the world, paired with a relationship that has endured between the two nations for the last 40 years, non-Jamaica-China interactions are nearly impossible.
“In the national discourse, there is a sense of concern about our relationship with China. It is virtually impossible for Jamaica not to engage with China – culturally, socially and economically,” he said.
He was speaking during his keynote address at the handover ceremony of the Jamaica China Goodwill Infant School in Olympic Gardens, St. Andrew on Wednesday, October 31.
Several groups and individuals continue to voice their strong objection to the seeming increase in the dispensation of grants, loans and ‘gifts’ from China to Jamaica – with some asking how these loans will be repaid.
The latest concern was expressed Tuesday by a leading financial manager who said Jamaica should take care that it will be able to repay all the loans it is getting from China, lest default causes this country to lose important national assets to the Asian country.
Holness responded in part to those concerns, arguing that the government will only take on ‘what it can chew’.
“What we must ensure is if we borrow, we borrow smartly, seek the best rates and make a commitment – as we have made with other countries and multilateral institutions – that we must repay our loans,” he said.
According to Holness, the issue would truly lie in how that engagement should be pursued, as he contended, “There are parameters within which our relationship operates and we have mutual respect and regard for each other.”
Holness further remarked that Jamaica’s relationship spans governments as administrations led by both parties have reached out to broaden capacity in areas such as infrastructure development, education and training cooperation, healthcare delivery and improvement, among others.
By: Franklin McKnight