June 22, 2021

The Editor speaks: Is China good for the Caribbean?

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Colin Wilson

We have published two articles today, both Commentaries, both on similar subject matter – CHINA, and both with differing views.

One is from a regular Commentator we publish, Sir Ronald Sanders, and the other a first for us,

Evan Ellis, a member of the Policy Planning staff at the US State Department.

Ellis’ commentary is published because Sir Ronald mentions it.

With very,very few exceptions I have agreed with Sir Ronald and admired and welcomed his insight.

Today, however, this one of the exceptions.

Sir Ronald paints an almost rosy picture of China, although he does carry with it a warning.

“Only the naïve would believe that any major global power is in the Caribbean in the region’s interest”, he rightly states.

Ellis’ article warns “Chinese companies are notoriously inadequate, for example, in providing opportunities for locals in senior management” and he urges Caribbean countries not to allow Chinese participation in telecommunications and surveillance. “…such presence could put at risk the ability of its (the Caribbean’s) politicians and administrators to make effective and independent decisions” he says.

Sir Ronald then asks the question, “why is it more in the Caribbean’s interest to allow participation in its telecommunications by North American and European companies than by Chinese ones?”

He also claims (and this is where I mainly disagree with him) “there has been no evidence of [side contracts to government negotiators) in the Caribbean. For their part, Chinese officials are keenly aware that the penalty is fatal in their country for any corruption of which they are convicted.”

I cannot believe he is not aware of the red flags from all the Caribbean countries that have dealt with China Harbour Engineering, making all of us here very worried we would be one of them.

Sir Ronald also says:

One of the fallacies promoted by Western writers is that China “lures” Caribbean governments into “asymmetric deals by offering personal benefits (to government negotiators) in exchange for overall terms favourable to Chinese companies”. The reality tells a different story. Often, Caribbean governments have had to pursue Chinese government loans, facing rejections before any are approved, and many remain refused. China is interested in getting its loan capital repaid with interest. China wants the money. It has millions whose standard of living they have to improve and millions of mouths which they have to feed. Doing so is crucial to the maintenance of political stability and China’s form of government.”

Not everything in his latest Commentary is opposite to my view. I urge you to read both commentators and form your own opinion. Sanders’ is titled “Whose Interest?”. Ellis’ is titled “Choosing self-interest”.

I am, however, relieved we are not dealing with China Harbour on our proposed Cruise Berthing Facility that our Speaker, McKeeva Bush, was doing his best to employ, and for reasons not disclosed our Premier, had included in the final three bidders.


NOTE: I haven’t answered my question. I leave you to provide your answer.

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