On January 12, 1853, the first batch of 252 Chinese immigrants arrived in then British Guyana as part of the indentureship programme.
They have ever since been making tremendous contributions to the diversity of Guyana. To commemorate the second annual Chinese Arrival Day, President David Granger said Guyana will forever be opened to accepting Chinese immigrants.
In January of 2017, President David Granger declared January 12 as Chinese
Arrival Day, and in commemoration of the second celebration, the President underscored the importance of the contribution of the Chinese towards national development.
The commemoration event was held at the Windsor Forest Primary School on the West Coast of Demerara. When the Chinese indentured immigrants arrived in Guyana, they settled at Windsor Forest, La Jalousie and Pouderoyen, with only one being sent to the Essequibo Coast.
President Granger has noted that, to this date, large numbers of Chinese nationals are migrating to Guyana for various entrepreneurial reasons. He added that they would forever be welcome.
“Chinese are still arriving today, not as labourers but as investors, visitors, workers; as entrepreneurs… They are welcome again as they were welcome in 1853… Chinese entrepreneurs are extending their influence and expanding their involvement in the commercial, construction, hospitality and mining sectors. They are continuing to contribute to Guyana’s growth,” the President noted.
He added that continuous immigration of Chinese to Guyana attests to the excellent relations between the two countries, and he pledged that his administration will continue to work with this major international partner to advance a common vision.
He noted, too, that the intensification of cooperation between Guyana and China — particularly in the areas of defence, education, economic development, health, infrastructural development and security — promotes mutual benefits for both Guyana and China. This, he said, is a fitting tribute to Chinese ancestors on this, the 165th anniversary of their arrival.
Meanwhile, Charge d’ Affairs at the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in Guyana, Chen Xilai, committed his Government’s participation in the strengthening of bilateral relations with Guyana.
“It also demonstrates the great importance that Guyana holds towards sustaining cordial relations with China… The preservation of the inherent Chinese traditional culture has assisted in enhancing the richness and diversity already present in the Guyanese culture. The Chinese living in Guyana treat this nation as their second home,” he said.
Xilai added that Guyana was the first English speaking Caribbean country to establish diplomatic relations with China, in 1972.
Minister with the responsibility for Culture, Dr George Norton, said the contributions of the Chinese immigrants cannot be downplayed, since they are involved in a number of sectors. He noted that there would be further collaborating with the Embassy for further partnership in the fields of sports and social inclusion.
“Chinese input to Guyana’s development cannot be underestimated…today marks the first celebration of this nature of Chinese Arrival Day in Guyana’s history, but it is certainly not the last. I will ensure that this day remains a prominent feature on the calendar of national events in this country,” Dr. Norton said.
The day’s events included the Chinese Association of Guyana donating a number of school and sanitation supplies to the Windsor Forest Primary School, which holds the Chinese Indentured Immigrants Monument, and is also the birth place of Guyana’s first President, Arthur Chung.
Over the years, the strong, comprehensive programme of bilateral cooperation has resulted in Guyana benefiting from the services of the Chinese medical doctors and technicians, the donation of equipment to the health sector, the educational work of the Confucius Institute, the support given to the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service, the donation of scientific equipment to the tune of $50 million to the Cyril Potter College of Education, infrastructural support for the expansion and renovation of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), the widening of the East Coast Demerara Public Road, and the donation of vehicles and other equipment to the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force.
Chinese indentured immigrants arrived in British Guiana aboard the ship Glentanner on January 12, 1853. The first 262 were joined, five days later, by an additional 85 indentured immigrants who disembarked from another ship, the ‘Lord Elgin’.
Unfortunately, more than half of the passengers who were on board the Lord Elgin died from sulphurated hydrogen poisoning while en route to Demerara, but a third ship arrived two months later with another 300 immigrants.