President David Granger: Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly [Dr. Barton Scotland] and Mrs. Scotland; Ministers of the Government, His Excellency Zhang Limin and Mrs. Zhang, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; President of the Chinese Association of Guyana, Mr. [Shiloning] Chow; Members of the Chinese Association of Guyana, distinguished invitees, members of the media:
My wife and I are grateful to the Chinese Association of Guyana and we thank you for your kind invitation to be here this evening; to celebrate the traditional Chinese welcome on the occasion of the ‘Year of the Red Monkey.’ This is my third Chinese dinner for the year and if I continue at this rate we will be celebrating the year of the fat red monkey because it is only February and I have had three dinners already…[Laughter.]
But I’m very grateful for this opportunity to address you on the occasion of this very happy festival. We’re sure that all around the world people of Chinese origin and certainly in the People’s Republic of China itself, millions of people like we here in Guyana, are celebrating the advent of this important year, the ‘Year of the Red Monkey’.
We were happy this evening to see also, and I congratulate, the members of the Confucius Institute, which as you know was founded along with the University of Guyana and Dalian University of Foreign Languages two years ago. It was inaugurated by His Excellency Zhang Limin, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China. I really regret that I left university so long ago I should have been here now to find out what they are teaching at the Confucius Institute, it’s all about L-O-V-E, is it? [Applause.] Well I would like to thank them for their fine performance this evening and I agree with you that L-O-V-E makes the world go around; congratulations Confucius Institute.
Ambassador Zhang on the occasion of the launch of the Confucius Institute two years ago pointed out that China has an ancient history and splendid culture. The Confucius Institute at our national university provides a bridge for cultural exchanges and mutual understanding between Guyana and China. Ambassador Zhang, on that occasion, quoted President Xi Jinping as saying and I quote “Civilizations have become richer and more colourful with the exchanges and mutual learning”. And I agree and we are seeing this in practice tonight. It is our wish, therefore, that the Confucius Institute will be a platform for mutual understanding between Guyanese and Chinese peoples.
Our two republics; The People’s Republic of China and the Cooperative Republic of Guyana are 15,000 kilometres apart. Despite this distance and despite the demographic and geographical disparities between our two republics, we have been united 163 years ago by bonds of blood, by bonds of history and more recently by bonds of friendship. Tonight we celebrate that history, we reaffirm those bonds, and we deepen that friendship for the mutual benefit of our peoples and also for posterity, generations to come.
Chinese arrived in Guyana 163 years ago as indentured labourers and they were welcomed then. Recent waves of entrepreneurs continue to arrive today, this time not as indentured labourers but as independent investors, and just as we did then we welcome them again to Guyana. People of Chinese origin made important contributions to Guyana. They were also always well represented in the professions; in academia, in accountancy, in agriculture, aviation, business, engineering, and finance, law as we read of quite recently in the newspapers, medicine, sport and tourism.
The first President of Guyana as you know, Mr. Arthur Chung, was a descendant of Chinese immigrants. The first president of the Trade Union Movement in Guyana, Theophilus Lee, was a descendant of Chinese immigrants. We are proud of our Chinese heritage here in Guyana. Today, Chinese enterprise has been fostered by 44 years of friendship, of strong diplomatic relations between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China.
Our government is committed to fortifying that friendship between our two Republics. Guyanese welcome the Chinese who want to contribute to transforming our economic landscape; they will do so now as they stared to do so 163 years ago.
Guyana, after all, is the largest Anglophone Caribbean country; it is a land of promise, it is a land of potential. Guyana possesses abundant natural resources. Guyana is the host headquarters of the Caribbean Community. Guyana is the only English-speaking country on the continent of South America. The possibilities for economic growth are limitless. Guyana would like to see a thriving manufacturing sector. There is much more to economic growth than merely buying and selling. We must first produce the goods we want to sell. We must balance what we import with what we want to export.
Guyana, therefore, welcomes investors not only in trading, but also in agro-processing, in energy-generation, in engineering, in fishing, housing, information technology, manufacturing, mining, telecommunications and tourism. Everyone wins with an enlarged, export-driven economy.
Guyana looks to foreign investors including persons of Chinese origin, to contribute to our economic development. Investors can be assured of the encouragement of our ministries; the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Business, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Natural Resources, of Public Infrastructure, of Public Telecommunications and of course the Ministry of the Presidency itself. Together we will continue to explore, to expand and to enlarge our markets for products made in Guyana.
It is my honour therefore tonight, on behalf of the Government and people of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, to extend best wishes for a productive New Year to the Government and People of the People’s Republic of China and to the members and families of the Chinese Association of Guyana on this auspicious occasion of the Chinese New Year ‘Year of the Red Monkey’.
Happy New Year! And may God bless the friendship between our two Republics.
I thank you.

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