Casting himself as a "batsman" former Jamaican Ambassador to the US (now Pro-Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs, UWI) Richard Bernal played a commanding innings at the launch of his book "Dragon in the Caribbean" at the regional headquarters of the UWI on Monday.
With support "at the crease" from the likes of Sir Hilary Beckles (who mentioned the historic partnership between UWI and the People's Republic), Sir Alister McIntyre (who had launched his own tome about a month earlier) and emcee Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr, Dr Bernal faced an array of questions from a capacity audience (the turnout was in fact almost double what had been anticipated) on his study of the growing influence of the People's Republic of China in the region.
Lascelles Chin, of sponsor LASCO, showed no ill-effects of recent surgery (the neck brace the only visible reminder) "weaving" in plugs and pitches for his company and products in both his allotted presentation and his contribution to the Q & A. Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding also made his own interventions in the Q & A session, noting the disruptive effect of the presence of a new generation of Chinese retailers and haberdashers on the business and social life of Kingston and other towns, a phenomenon by no means new to Jamaica.
The main contribution came from former Finance Minister and now Opposition Leader-designate, Dr the Hon. Peter Phillips who, like his longtime colleague (Phillips and Bernal have a close association dating to their high school days at Jamaica College), has been observing and - in his political capacity - interfacing with Chinese commercial and trade interests in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries.
The audience paid keen attention to the discourse, with many heeding the subtle yet repeated exhortations to "buy the book". The innings having been completed, the "not out" author and the book launch party decamped to the "pavilion" for refreshments and the opportunity for conversation and further congratulations.
Kudos too, to his wife Margaret, herself a formidable champion of arts and letters, who promised of "more to come" (including her own book) in the near future.