–as Chinese in Guyana celebrate Arrival Day
GUYANESE of Chinese heritage as well as Chinese nationals living here on Friday turned out in their numbers to celebrate the 165th Anniversary of their arrival on these shores as indentured labourers.
The activity was a collaborative effort of the Government of Guyana and the Chinese Association of Guyana.
The ceremony was held at the Windsor Forest Primary School at the village of Windsor Forest, on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD), home to the memorial of the first Chinese who came to the then British Guiana, on January 12, 1853.
Among those in attendance were President David Granger and his wife, First Lady Sandra Granger; Prime Minister Mr Moses Nagamootoo; Minister of State, Mr Joseph Harmon; Minister of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr George Norton; Minister of Finance, Mr Winston Jordan; Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr Basil Williams; Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally; Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Mr Sydney Allicock; and Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Mr Keith Scott.
There was also a large turnout from the Chinese Association of Guyana and the Chinese medical team, as well as regional executives and members of the diplomatic corps.
Delivering remarks, President Granger pointed out that although the Chinese currently represent only 0.2% of the population, they have distinguished themselves in various fields, among them commerce, agriculture, education, entertainment, law, manufacturing, medicine, and politics.
“Chinese are still arriving today, not as labourers but as investors, visitors, workers, entrepreneurs,” the President said, adding: “They’re welcomed again today as they were welcomed in 1853.”
He reminded his audience that Guyana’s first president Mr Arthur Chung and the first President of the British Guiana Trades Union Council, Mr Theophilus Lee, were just two of the notable Guyanese figures of Chinese heritage.
He said that the mere idea that the Chinese continue to expand and contribute to Guyana’s economic development is testimony to the excellent relationship the two nations share.
He listed as being among China’s most recent contributions to Guyana’s development the over $50M worth of scientific equipment donated to the Cyril Potter College of Education; the widening of the East Coast Public Road; and the donation of a number of vehicles and other equipment to the Guyana Police Force.
Noting that Guyana relishes the idea that China saw it fit to erect a monument here in memory of the arrival of Chinese indentured labourers to Guyana, President Granger said:
“The Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China will continue to advance our common vision. I am proud of the relationship between the [two countries] and I wish you all Happy Chinese Arrival Day.”
In response, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Guyana, Mr Chen Xilai, thanked the President for designating January 12 as Chinese Arrival Day in 2017.
Noting that Guyana was the first English-speaking Caribbean country to forge diplomatic ties with China back in 1972, Mr Chen said things between the two countries have gotten so close that Chinese living here now treat this country as their second home.
He said China is willing to continue working with Guyana as it moves forward to reaching its full potential.
“Chinese and the other ethnic groups in Guyana have been working side by side and supporting each other, enabling the seed of the Guyana-China friendship to take root and flourish,” Mr Chen said, adding:
“China is willing to work with Guyana to further promote developmental changes and cooperation within various fields, thus creating a better future for our nations and our relations.”
Speaking of the special cultural bond the two countries share, Minister Norton said:
“I am aware that the Department of Culture has engaged the Chinese Association of Guyana in our cultural programmes in the past, and the response has always been heartening.
“For this, I thank you, and I look forward to working more regularly with you.”
He is also looking forward in the coming years to collaborating even more with the Chinese Embassy and the Chinese Association of Guyana to explore possibilities for sporting initiatives.
President of the Chinese Association of Guyana Mr Yang Jun Ye seized the opportunity to donate a quantity of school supplies and cleaning materials to Windsor Forest Primary.
Guests at the event were kept well entertained by the Police Military Band, the schoolchildren of Windsor Forest Primary, members of the Chinese Association and the National Dance Company.
For over 44 years, China has shared diplomatic ties with Guyana, which has indicated its interest in partnering with China as the country pursues its 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020), which will focus on principles of ‘green’ development in transportation and energy among other initiatives.