Emphasising the cultural and economic contributions of the Chinese people on the 165th Anniversary of their arrival on these shores, President David Granger yesterday welcomed the new wave of migrants from China and said it was a testament to the strong ties between Georgetown and Beijing.
By way of an Executive Notice issued by the President last year, January 12th has been designated Chinese Arrival Day, making yesterday’s celebration at the Windsor Forest Primary School compound, where the Chinese Arrival Monument is located, the first of its kind in local history.
Windsor Forest has traditionally been home to large numbers of Chinese and the primary school there was selected to host the event, which was attended by the President and First Lady, Sandra Granger, several Ministers of Government, the Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy and a delegation of Chinese officials.
Delivering the feature address, President Granger stated that January 12th has been designated a day to pay homage to ancestors of Guyanese of Chinese origin and to applaud their contribution to the nation.
“Persons of Chinese origin today constitute only .2 per cent of our total population but as you can see when you walk down Regent Street, their numbers are continually growing. And on another occasion I observed that and I quote, ‘Chinese are still arriving today but not as labourers but as investors, as visitors as workers as entrepreneurs and I said they are welcome here today as they were welcomed in 1853,’” the President said.
He continued by saying Chinese entrepreneurs are extending their influence and involvement to include commerce and construction, the hospitality and mining sectors and in this regard are continuing to contribute to Guyana’s economic development and strengthening an already strong bilateral relationship.
“This continued immigration attests to the excellent current relations between the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China…the intensification of co-operation defence, education and economic development, health, infrastructural development and security promote mutual benefits for both our countries,” he added.
Similar sentiments were shared by the Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy Chen Xilai, who also reiterated the importance of the bi-lateral relations shared by Guyana and China
“Today we gather together at the Windsor Forest Primary School to commemorate our forefathers who landed in Guyana on January 12, 1853. This first group of Chinese indentured labourers made the perilous trip across the oceans and arrived in the Land of Many Waters, also known as Guyana.”
He noted, that as time went by, more and more Chinese immigrants came to Guyana, bringing with them the Chinese national spirit of diligence and perseverance.
“They have dedicated themselves to the nation building of Guyana through the Chinese virtue of regularizing harmony. These virtues include abiding by the local laws and regulation along with living and working harmoniously with other ethnic groups, the preservation of Chinese traditional culture has assisted in the richness and diversity that already existed in the Guyanese culture. The Chinese people in Guyana treat here like their second home and have gradually been recognized as one of the six diverse ethnic groups within Guyana. At the long cost of 165 years, Chinese and the other ethnic groups in Guyana have been working side by side learning from and supporting each other in every seed of the Guyana-China friendship to take root and flourish. This made Guyana the first English-speaking Caribbean country to establish diplomatic ties with China in 1972,” Xilai said.
“China is willing to work with Guyana to further promote the bilateral exchanges and cooperation within those fields thus creating a better future for our nation and our relations,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ann Yin Chu, of the Chinese People’s Association of Guyana, underscored the role of the Chinese people in building Guyana’s diversity.
“Let us not forget that Guyana is a land of six peoples, a land of rich, colourful diversity, of which Chinese people are an integral part of and have contributed towards the development of Guyana through the years since they first arrived in 1853. It is useful to note that besides being useful business owners, we also have a fleet of distinguished professionals in the legal fraternity, medical fraternity, aeronautical professionals, writers and engineers, as well as public servants and politicians who are Chinese descendants,” she said. “As we celebrate another milestone in the history of Chinese People in Guyana and Chinese people continue to migrate to these shores, bringing with them their traditional culture of determination and hard work towards a better life and a better society, let us remind ourselves that our rich Guyanese diversity is what makes us unique and our unity as one people, one nation and one destiny is the key to achieving development and prosperity for this beautiful country of ours called Guyana,” Yin Chu added.
Meanwhile, Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton has committed to ensuring that strong efforts are made to continuously integrate the Chinese community into the social cohesion and developmental process of Guyana as a part of the policy of the government.
“I am aware that the Department of Culture has included the Chinese Association of Guyana in our cultural programmes in the past and the response has always been heartening. For this, I commend and I am looking forward to working more regularly with you, not only in cultural initiatives but in all other opportunities”, he stated.