Remarks by Ambassador NIU Qingbao at the Opening of Great Beauty Sichuan Chinese Painting Exhibition

Kingston, Jamaica

5 December, 2017


The Honourable Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports,

The Honourable Thomas Tavares-Finson, President of the Senate,

Dear Shorna-Kay Richards, Director of Bilateral Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Art lovers,

Good evening.

It is my great pleasure to open this Great Beauty Sichuan Chinese Painting Exhibition. I thank all of you for making time available out of your very busy schedule to join me here today. This exhibition is the last of long list of public events celebrating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Jamaica.

We are happy to see that, over the past 45 years, the friendship and partnership between China and Jamaica have witnessed rapid progress, marked by sustained growth of bilateral cooperation in political, economic, military, cultural fields and people-to-people exchanges. Our two countries have always genuinely respected each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity; Jamaica is the first English speaking Caribbean island country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and has been steadfast in following the one-China policy. We have been closely collaborating with each other on international and regional issues and safeguarding the interests of developing countries as a whole. Our bilateral trade and economic cooperation has grow out of nothing and expanded from small to large. China is now one of Jamaica's largest trading partners and the largest source of foreign capital and a major international development partner. For instance, more than 500 Jamaican friends have taken up offers and attended human resources workshops in China this year alone. Construction of the office building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and 2 early childhood learning institutions is progressing and preparatory work has been done for the construction of the Western Children's Hospital and Confucius Institute building early next year. Minister Grange has played a key role in inking an agreement on sports exchanges.

Partnerships are never one way. Jamaica has been very generous in training 10 Chinese sports coaches and students at the G. C. Forster College. Earlier this year, you were so kind to offer 10 full scholarships to Chinese students at the newly chartered CMU. On behalf of the Chinese government, in particular on behalf of those who have benefited and will benefit from Jamaica's generosity, I wish to say a big thank-you!

Among all aspects of our partnership, I have special interest in promoting cultural exchanges to enhance people-to-people affinity. As an old Chinese saying goes, "amity between the people holds the key to state-to-state relations."  Since 1853 when Chinese first landed in Jamaica as indentured labour, Chinese have integrated into and contributed to economic and social development of Jamaica. Culturally, Jamaican Chinese like Byron Lee have helped popularize the Reggae music; Ray Chen made Jamaica's natural beauty better known internationally.

Chinese are generous in that they are willing to share their best stuff with the world. As another old Chinese saying goes, "Mountains and seas can not separate people with common goals and ideals." This exhibition is a case in point.

Brush painting is an ancient Chinese art and treasure of Chinese civilization of thousands of years. Brush strokes with different patterns of Chinese ink make the elegant and expressive art works more impressive than color painting. Just as oil on canvas and sculpture dominate western arts, brush painting embodies the essence of Chinese fine arts. 

The 40-plus paintings on show today are the works of well-famed painters from Sichuan Province, located in southwestern China, known as the "land of abundance" since ancient times, and boasting a long history and tremendous natural scenery.  Remember the performance jointly hosted by my Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade at Courtleigh Auditorium last month?  Those artists were from Sichuan Province.

The purpose of this exhibition is to share with Jamaican friends the natural beauty of Sichuan, home to high-rising snowy mountains, strikingly beautiful landscapes and endangered species such as giant pandas. I also wish to acquaint my Jamaican friends with the style of traditional Chinese ink painting.

Some distinct characteristics separate Chinese ink painting from western oil painting:

While western oil painting is painted with a hard and flat brush or brushes on canvas, traditional Chinese ink painting is painted with a soft and pointed brush or brushes on a special kind of soft paper;

Western painting applies addition, namely, you paint the canvas fully and in multi-layers, or in another word, you add paint on top of paint. Chinese ink painting, however, applies subtraction. We don't apply ink anywhere that is not needed. So in Chinese ink painting, you will find blank spaces. Please note these spaces are not painted white; they are intentionally left blank. There is no white ink to paint the paper anyway;

Western painting stresses likeness in form, while Chinese painting values likeness in spirit. In Chinese painting, you may be able to draw a horse in a few strokes and it may not take long, as some of you have noticed last month when Mr Liang Shimin painted a giant panda and humming birds in about 20 minutes. You may think it's easy. But, believe me, this 20 minutes live performance will never be possible without many years of learning and practice.

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China convened in last October decided to build China into a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and beautiful country by the middle of this century. China has a civilization of 5000 years and a rich culture. But still, we can not achieve this behind closed door. Instead, we have to conduct international exchanges and cooperation.

Jamaica is rich in arts and among the most innovative. Please don't hesitate to make your comments on the paintings known to my Embassy or Olympia Gallery. We will be happy to forward your comments to the painters so that we learn from and enrich each other.

Let me conclude by giving thanks to those who have made this exhibition possible:

I thank China Harbour for generously funding the framing these beautiful paintings. China Harbour contribute to Jamaican infrastructure, give to charity and community needs, and sponsor China-Jamaica bilateral cultural exchanges;

I thank Shorna-Kay for tirelessly supporting this exhibition. Without your facilitation, this exhibition could have been halted. I will not disclose why;

My friend Tom, you made me make up my mind to stage an exhibition of Chinese paintings in the first place. Otherwise, I would have been too lazy to push forward;

Minister Grange, thank you for graciously agreeing to attend and address this opening ceremony. Your presence itself has made this event special;

May I thank Robin Lim who has supplied delicious refreshments;

Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to join me in thanking my staff, especially Mr Xia Shaowu. He has been doing all the liaison work for the exhibition. What I did was telling him, "OK. I agree. Do it."

My thanks go to Olympia Gallery and its professional staff who have given us valuable advice;

Respected representatives from the media, please accept my hearty thanks for covering and reporting this exhibition. Your good work makes it possible for more people to be able to appreciate these paintings and therefore the value of China-Jamaica cultural exchanges;

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank each and every one of you for gracing this opening ceremony. Without your presence, this exhibition will be meaningless.

So, please enjoy. I firmly believe this exhibition will be a complete success! 

Thank you.

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