Editorial

Undiplomatic and hypocritical comments against Chinese investors

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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In the last few days there has been a virulent outbreak of intemperate utterances with potentially harmful effects to Jamaica's friendship with the People's Republic of China.

When there is a dispute between the host Government and a foreign investor it should never be taken into the public domain. Negotiations are made more difficult when the different perspectives are made public, especially when only one side of the issue is aired. It is a common mistake and a transparently amateurish tactic to try to drum up public support against one side.

A recent paper entitled 'Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in the Caribbean', published by the Inter-American Development Bank, makes the point that what a country gets from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) depends on the terms under which the foreign investor is made to operate. It also indicates that China is now second only to the USA as a source of FDI.

It was during successive People's National Party (PNP) governments that China's presence in Jamaica increased, but Mr Peter Bunting is only now raising questions in an attempt to appear to be defending national pride and the local construction industry.

It is surprising that he is making allegations without evidence, which he should know as a former minister of national security. His tirade against the Chinese is even more hypocritical coming at the same time when a delegation from his own party is on a 10-day trip to the People's Republic of China hosted by the ruling Communist Party of China.

The Embassy of China in Jamaica, we note, has rebutted some of Mr Bunting's allegations with empirical evidence.

Nobel laureate in economics Sir W Arthur Lewis diagnosed the problem of developing countries as the difficulty in increasing domestic savings and investment. Foreign capital, in the form of loans and foreign direct investment, under the right conditions can assist developing countries to increase the rate of economic growth.

It was not local investors who developed the bauxite industry. And while we defend Jamaica's right to protect its sovereignty, we cannot support actions that can damage diplomatic relations with our allies.

The innuendo about Chinese companies has the potential to discourage them from doing business in Jamaica. Indeed, it could worry all foreign investors and Jamaican business operators of Chinese descent.

That China has grown at over 10 per cent per annum for the last 30 years is a demonstration of the fact that it is businesses that determine a country's economic prosperity.

If there are questions which need to be answered, and corrective actions to be taken, then by all means start a dialogue. However, we cannot go about it in an undiplomatic way, especially with a global superpower that has been a good friend to Jamaica.

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