Thursday, March 21, 2019
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
CHINESE officials in the Bahamas say they are confident the people and government of the Bahamas will see through the fabrications and “irresponsible accusations” put forth by the United States, referring to planned talks between US President Donald Trump and various regional leaders.
In response to questions raised by The Tribune following the meeting’s announcement by the Office of the Press Secretary at the White House late Tuesday, Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in the Bahamas Haigang Yin yesterday accused the US government of trying to “disintegrate solidarity and cooperation between China and other developing countries.”
He also fired back against the “predatory economic practices” label the US has placed on China’s activities in the Caribbean, dismissing it as completely baseless, unreasonable and contradictory to the facts.
The US statement on the high-level talks noted that President Trump will meet with the leaders of the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Haiti, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia on Friday to reaffirm the US’ strong friendship with and commitment to these countries, and signal the importance of the Caribbean to the hemisphere.
The statement also noted that President Trump will discuss his vision for the US’ diverse relationships in the Caribbean and the potential opportunities for energy investment, with a view to discuss his willingness to work with Caribbean countries to strengthen security cooperation and counter China’s “predatory economic practices” in the region.
To that end yesterday, Mr Yin argued that China, through good cooperation with Caribbean countries under its Belt and Road Initiative, has cultivated mutually beneficial outcomes for all sides. He contended that China has effectively realised common development by fully leveraging complementary strengths.
“…China-Caribbean cooperation has created a large number of local jobs and strongly boosted the host country’s development and improved people’s livelihood,” he said.
Speaking to specifically to the Bahamas, Mr Yin said: “… Our bilateral cooperation has been very fruitful. The Thomas Robinson Stadium is a grant project from China, which is now being used to host international and regional sport events. The Airport Highway has been built using concessional loans from China. Baha Mar has been completed and created over 5,000 jobs for Bahamians and contributed substantially to the economy of the Bahamas.”
He added: “Facing the fabricated lies and irresponsible accusation, we have faith in the people, with whom rests the final judgement. We are confident that the Bahamian people and government will not be misled.”
The United States and China have been locked in a trade dispute for much of the past year, with both sides issuing export and import tariffs on goods.
Despite several rounds of negotiations, the two sides have not been able to come to a resolution on how to end the dispute, leaving small developing states dependent on their goods and services caught in the crosshairs.
Meanwhile, Progressive Liberal Party Chairman and Senator Fred Mitchell yesterday urged the Minnis administration to have the US government make clear its change in policy related to bilateral relations between countries like the Bahamas and China.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Mitchell contended that the Obama administration encouraged the Bahamas’ budding relationship with China, referring to the country as a “reliable source of capital.”
“They raised no security concerns with us,” the former minister of foreign affairs said. “The problem is the US is not a source of development capital.”
Nonetheless, he said he didn’t view China as having any “hegemonic designs”—or desires for political or economic control—on the Bahamas or the Caribbean.