In a move highlighting his keen understanding of the benefits of global collaboration, LASCO Affiliated Companies' Founder and Executive Chairman, Lascelles Chin is calling for greater emphasis on relations between China and Jamaica. As China is currently the second largest economy in the world in terms of GDP, is poised to overtake the US as the largest economy in only a few years, the potential impact of the relationship on the island’s economy has come into sharp focus.
Underscoring China’s growing importance as one of Jamaica’s economic partners, Mr. Chin argues that it is imperative for Jamaicans to gain a better understanding of Chinese history and culture. Indeed, Jamaica and China have shared over 50 years of diplomatic relations to the economic and cultural benefit of both countries.
“China is already the world's largest trading partner. It is the EU's second largest trading partner behind the United States while the EU is China's biggest trading partner,” the local business leader said. “As the international economic powers shift and China continues to rise as one of the world’s most powerful nations (and the US falls to possibly third position), Jamaicans should embrace knowledge of Chinese culture and history so that we can understand them as partners in Jamaica’s development,” Mr. Chin said.
To demonstrate his philosophy on cross-cultural exchange, Mr. Chin has helped to spark the increase in knowledge about China by donating several copies of two historical texts to the nation’s libraries. The Jamaica Library Service (JLS), the Calvin McKain Library (the University of Technology) and the Library of the University of the West Indies have received The Genius of China: 3000 Years of Science, Invention and Discovery written by Robert Temple and 1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies.
“It is important for Jamaicans to recognize that China has made a number of incredible discoveries, possibly the biggest of which is the discovery of America which is detailed in the books. China like European countries explored the world, but unlike Europe did not conquer. Also, some of the world’s greatest inventions such as the development of the Decimal System and a place for zero are also credited to China,” he said. He added that China also discovered solar disturbance in the sun and circulation of the human blood over 2000 years ago.
The LASCO head encourages Jamaican entrepreneurs to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that can be mined from an enhanced Jamaica-China partnership, but advised that entrepreneurs must be armed with knowledge of China’s contributions to the world.
The Genius of China: 3000 Years of Science, Invention and Discovery is a multi-award winning, international bestseller. It presents Chinese innovations in the realms of astronomy, agriculture, medicine, math, music and even warfare. Publishers Weekly described the book as “an exhilarating celebration of historic achievements, the breadth of which will astonish the general reader”.
Despite its far more contentious subject, 1421: The Year China Discovered America, has received great praise from its expansive readership. A New York Times bestseller, 1421 has been acknowledged for pointing to history in the Americas that extends beyond European colonisation. In fact, China discovered America 60 years before Columbus.
Mary Bewaji, Region 1 Director of the JLS noted that the Chinese are important to Jamaica. Despite this, Jamaicans do not know enough about China and the Chinese. “The Chinese are one of the key groups in Jamaica. What I read in The Genius of China: 3000 Years of Science, Invention and Discovery I had not read anywhere else,” she went on to say.
“I think it is important that Jamaicans have access to more information about China, the country and the culture,” said Glenda Dalling, Librarian at the Calvin McKain Library. “This is especially important for the younger generation so they can learn more about the nations that are a part of the country, and the workers who are working and investing here. With their growing world-wide economic investments, there is a need for people to know more about China, their traditions and how they work.”
Earlier in the year, LASCO Distributors contributed more than a half a million Jamaican dollars to the UTECH to a Business/Study/Culture tour of China by six participants. He has also promised to further augment the libraries’ collections through the donation of additional books.