JO - Jamaica's arrangement with China not unique. Six complexes available for foreign missions and int'l agencies, says McCook.
Jamaica's arrangement with China not unique
Six complexes available for foreign missions and int'l agencies, says McCook
BY CHARMAINE N CLARKE Sunday Observer Writer
Sunday, April 23, 2006
BEIJING, China - Jamaica's ambassador to China, Wayne McCook, on Friday steered clear of the ongoing squabble that erupted in the Jamaican Parliament two days earlier, over the three-year rent-free use of the building that houses the Caribbean island's embassy in this capital city.
"With respect to the (Opposition's) comments and (your questions about) budget details, you will see that I have referred you to the information from the Standing Finance Committee," the ambassador said.
Jamaica's Ambassador to China, Wayne McCook, (seated left), David Shields, deputy director of tourism in charge of marketing (seated right), and Adam Wu, President of China Business Network, in discussion with two Chinese journalists (at left) on the marketing Jamaica's tourism in China, during the Beijing International Travel and Tourism Market, held from April 2 to 5.
The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) on Wednesday had condemned government's acceptance of the office space from the People's Republic of China, and a similar arrangement being finalised with South Africa, as a breach of protocol, saying it was unbecoming of a sovereign nation.
But foreign affairs and foreign trade minister Anthony Hylton immediately defended Beijing's gift as 'nothing unsual', adding that the staff was being paid by state-owned Port Authority of Jamaica.
While not addressing the issue of rental arrangements or payments by other tenants, McCook said the facility housing the Jamaican embassy was just one of half-a-dozen similar complexes.
"The embassy is located in the Jian Guo Men Wai Diplomatic Compound, which is one of six diplomatic complexes owned and managed by the Diplomatic Service Bureau (DSB) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC," he said.
These complexes, he explained, were used "for the housing of embassies and representative offices of foreign and international organisations."
With the official opening of the Jamaican Embassy on July 18 last year, the ambassador, the ministry counselor, and an attaché/vice consul joined existing personnel from other countries who had already set up embassies in the complex.
"We are located in offices situated in Building 7 of the Jian Guo Men Wai Compound," said McCook.
During Wednesday's meeting of the Standing Finance Committee, Opposition leader Bruce Golding had intimated that allowing the Chinese government to pick up the tab for representatives abroad was an unacceptable national embarrassment.
"When we go to a country, we go with our pride," he said then, adding that the country should not establish missions abroad unless it could fund them.
But Hylton dismissed the Opposition's assertions, saying there was nothing unusual about the arrangement. It did not, he assured the Opposition members, undermine the ministry's integrity.
Since the issue was raised in the House, concerns have been raised on the talkshow circuit that accepting such gifts might pose a problem for Jamaica when the country had to vote against countries from which it accepted favours.
But that argument has been countered by reference to the island's longstanding acceptance of grant aid from powerhouses such as the European Union and the United States, with which Jamaica has had differences.
"Indeed, Jamaica is widely known and respected for the independence and integrity that underpin the positions it has adopted on the international stage, many of which have been in direct opposition to stances advocated by large powers, including important traditional partners," said a foreign ministry statement issued Friday.