Just over two months into 2023, The Jamaican Embassy in Beijing has been expanding its activities in celebration of 50 years of diplomatic ties with China. The festivities started off with the embassy’s hosting of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day, celebrated annually on January 9.
This Caribbean island’s coffee has the reputation of being one of the most luxurious and elite coffee brands in the world. Between 2016 and 2021, China’s import of Jamaican coffee increased by an average growth rate of 82%.
Shanghai Kahai Industrial Company Limited, Shanghai Carmo Trading Company Limited and MTT Shanghai Shanbei International Trade Company Limited are among the local manufacturers that import and package Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee for the Chinese market which is sold on ecommerce websites. Coffee Traders Limited, Mavis Bank and Jablum are among the Jamaican brands that can also be sourced online.
Images from the Blue Mountain Coffee event organized by the Jamaican Embassy in China on January 12, 2023
Bob Marley's Birthday Celebrated in Hainan & Beijing
Dubbed the “King of Reggae,” Bob Marley has been recognized for his iconic contribution to the bolstering of Jamaican culture and music on the international stage. His distinctive musical style combines features of Reggae, Ska and Rocksteady, while utilizing evocative lyrics giving voice to many of the turbulent societal issues that often characterized the experience of the masses in the 1970s.
Time Magazine hailed Marley’s “Exodus” as the album of the 20th century. It therefore comes as no surprise that Marley’s birthday would also be celebrated in China in recognition of his global impact.
Facilitated by ChinaMan Yard (CMY), a record label founded in China by General Huge, Zulu Bob and Stinging Ray, hailing from France, Antigua & Barbuda and China, respectively, have been organizing Bob Marely Day events in China since 2016. This is the first year that the event was held on February 5 in Hainan’s Yue Bay, Wanning, with the experience being free for attendees.
Participants were able to get a taste of authentic Jamaican jerk chicken and Blue Mountain coffee while listening to the live tunes of Stinging Ray, Ras Rankin and Shohei. For those feeling adventurous, a hairdresser was on site to install dreadlocks — a style associated with the Rastafarian community and with Marley himself. General Huge commented on the event:
“Bob Marely’s birthday tribute is an event you can find in almost every country in the world and I’m grateful that we were responsible for celebrating the King in China!
“We are working hard to make the connection between Jamaica and China. Our label (CMY) is dedicated to promoting international artists in China and local artists internationally.
“We’ve brought multiple artists to China such as Anthony B, Perfect Giddimani, Skarra Mucci, I Kong and others. We are currently building a 'bridge' album between singer Stinging Ray (from China) and reggae bands Roots Radics, Sly Dunbar, Skunga Kong and Zulu Bob.”
While General Huge and his team were busy coordinating the event in Hainan, another Bob Marley event was held on February 10 at Kerry Hotel in Beijing. The musical line up included ONE DROP Band, MC Freddy Friday, Maroon 3, DJ Andy, Da MC and Cullens Basmu.
You can find ChinaMan Yard on Weibo (https://weibo.com/dbbrosrecords), Facebook (https://m.facebook.com/chinamanyard/) and Instagram (@chinamanyard).
Stinging Ray takes the mic during the Bob Marley Day tribute in Hainan
Celebrating 50 Years of Friendship
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China, the Jamaican embassy hosted a reception on February 9 at The St. Regis Hotel in Beijing. Among the dignitaries present were His Excellency Xie Feng, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China; Ji Wei, Deputy Director General of the American and Oceanian Department of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries; Wang Wei, Deputy Director-General of the Latin American and Caribbean Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Tian Qi, Former Ambassador to Jamaica; and Chen Chong, Chairman of the Yibin Wuliangye Group Import and Export Co., Ltd.
“Throughout the 50 years of Jamaica-China relations, the government and people of China have demonstrated true benevolence to Jamaica. I would like to seize this moment to express my profound gratitude to the Chinese government and people for their support and assistance through the ups and downs of Jamaica’s development,” remarked Jamaican Ambassador to China, Antonia Hugh.
His Excellency Xie Feng, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China (right) is seen cutting the celebratory cake with His Excellency Antonia Hugh, Jamaica's Ambassador to the People's Republic of China
To further celebrate 50 years of diplomatic ties, the Embassy of Jamaica and the Jintai International Friendship Theme Post Office unveiled a commemorative cover that combined distinctive elements of both countries. The cover was designed and produced by Yuan Xikun, Director and Ma Xiaoling, Deputy Director, both from the Jintai International Friendship Theme Post Office.
The national flags of China and Jamaica are printed on the top of the cover and the representative sports figures of both countries on the bottom, namely China's Olympic Gold Medal hurdler, Liu Xiang, and Jamaica's iconic sprinter, Usain Bolt. The cover symbolizes the Olympic cultural spirit of both countries and highlights a new beginning in the friendly development of relations between Jamaica and China.
His Excellency Antonia Hugh, Jamaica's Ambassador to the People's Republic of China (right) and Ma Xialong, Deputy Director of the Jintai International Friendship themed Post Office, strike a pose after unveiling the commemorative cover
Recognizing the economic potential for fruitful partnerships between Jamaican and Chinese fashion industry players, the Embassy of Jamaica in China used the occasion to launch a new initiative called Friendship and Fashion.
In keeping with this mission, guests were treated to a fashion show with designs by Cheng Hao, a Chinese designer with several local and international awards and certifications including the American ACIC International Certified Asian Fashion Design. He was also the Gold Award Winner of the International Shu Brocade Design Competition and was the designer for the 63rd Miss World champion, Yu Weiwei as well as other noteworthy personalities such as Chen Pei Si, Yu Yuexian, Wang Luodan and Bao Bei'er.
Designs by Jamaican Lucien Harrison were also showcased during the event. Harrison’s designs have been worn by Miss Jamaica World, International Artist Shensea and TV personality Simone Clarke Cooper.
Cheng Hao (second right) joins the ladies modeling his designs on stage
Stinging Ray was also on site to entertain guests with his rendition of popular local Reggae songs including Kingston Town, No Remedy, Silly Game and Fire in Your Eyes.
“I love Reggae, Calypso, Mento, Ska, Rocksteady Dancehall and all of the music that comes out of Jamaican culture. I want to build a musical bridge between China and Jamaica. I want to retain more of the original and spiritual aspects of Reggae and to be a part of creating a sort of 'Chinese Reggae.' This could be integrated into more of a 'world Reggae culture,'" said Ray.
Stinging Ray is seen giving a passionate performance
As a cultural product, Reggae has permeated every corner of the globe and is widely enjoyed by many people. As it relates to Jamaica’s export of goods to China, Ambassador Hugh closed his speech with this promise:
“Cognizant of the fact that Jamaican products provide Chinese people with enriched and diversified access to new cultural experiences, we will continue producing and exporting consistent volumes of the luxurious Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee to China. We will also seek to provide more delicious lobsters and aged rum and continue to share the magic of Reggae music with the beautiful people of China.”
[Cover image via Pixabay. All other images via Jamaican Embassy in China/Vicki Cann]
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