US alert as China’s cash buys inroads in Caribbean

Interesting thing is that although Archibold mentions Cuba in passing, he fails to note that China has built a MASSIVE presence in Cuba since the collapse of Cuba’s special relationship with Russia in 1994. And of course Cuba is nearly half the Caribbean, anyway.

I would have played the lead on this story a different way: 
Instead of “US alert as China’s cash buys inroads in Caribbean,” I’d be tempted to say, “US snoozes as Chinese start to buy up all the chips and build bonds with Caribbean leadership — especially the Cubans.”

bp

On Apr 8, 2012, at 10:10 AM, Kevel Lindsay wrote:


US alert as China’s cash buys inroads in Caribbean

‘They are buying loyalty and taking up the vacuum left by the United States, Canada and other countries,’ former diplomat says

By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD

updated 4/8/2012 3:16:06 AM ET2012-04-08T07:16:06
A brand new $35 million stadium opened here in the Bahamas a few weeks ago, a gift from the Chinese government. The tiny island nation of Dominica has received a grammar school, a renovated hospital and a sports stadium, also courtesy of the Chinese. Antigua and Barbuda got a power plant and a cricket stadium, and a new school is on its way. The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago can thank Chinese contractors for the craftsmanship in her official residence.
China’s economic might has rolled up to America’s doorstep in the Caribbean, with a flurry of loans from state banks, investments by companies and outright gifts from the government in the form of new stadiums, roads, official buildings, ports and resorts in a region where the United States has long been a prime benefactor.

The Chinese have flexed their economic prowess in nearly every corner of the world. But planting a flag so close to the United States has generated intense vetting — and some raised eyebrows — among diplomats, economists and investors.

“When you’ve got a new player in the hemisphere all of a sudden, it’s obviously something talked about at the highest level of governments,” said Kevin P. Gallagher, a Boston University professor who is an author of a recent report on Chinese financing, “The New Banks in Town.”

Most analysts do not see a security threat, noting that the Chinese are not building bases or forging any military ties that could invoke fears of another Cuban missile crisis. But they do see an emerging superpower securing economic inroads and political support from a bloc of developing countries with anemic budgets that once counted almost exclusively on the United States, Canada and Europe.

China announced late last year that it would lend $6.3 billion to Caribbean governments, adding considerably to the hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, grants and other forms of economic assistance it has already channeled there in the past decade.
Unlike in Africa, South America and other parts of the world where China’s forays are largely driven by a search for commodities, its presence in the Caribbean derives mainly from long-term economic ventures, like tourism and loans, and potential new allies that are inexpensive to win over, analysts say.

‘Strategic move’

American diplomatic cables released through WikiLeaks and published in the British newspaper The Guardian quoted diplomats as being increasingly worried about the Chinese presence here “less than 190 miles from the United States” and speculating on its purpose. One theory, according to a 2003 cable, suggested that China was lining up allies as “a strategic move” for the eventual end of the Castro era in Cuba, with which it has strong relations.

But the public line today is to be untroubled. “I am not particularly worried, but it is something the U.S. should continue to monitor,” said Dennis C. Shea, the chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan Congressional panel. But, he added, “With China you have to be wary of possible policy goals behind the effort.”

This archipelago, less than a one-hour flight from Florida, has gotten particular attention from the Chinese. Aside from the new stadium, with its “China Aid” plaque affixed prominently at the entrance, Chinese workers here in the Bahamas are busy helping build the $3.5 billion Baha Mar, one of the region’s largest megaresorts.

Beyond that, a Chinese state bank agreed in recent weeks to put up $41 million for a new port and bridge, and a new, large Chinese Embassy is being built downtown.

The new stadium here, Bahamian officials said, was in part a reward for breaking ties with Taiwan in 1997 and establishing and keeping relations with China.

It is one of several sporting arenas that China has sprinkled in Caribbean and Central American nations as gratitude for their recognition of “one China” — in other words, for their refusal to recognize Taiwan, which Chinese officials consider part of their country.

“They offered a substantial gift and we opted for a national stadium,” said Charles Maynard, the Bahamian sports minister, adding that his government could never have afforded to build it on its own.

Tug of war

In this enduring tug of war with Taiwan, others have switched, too, with a little financial encouragement. Grenada ended relations with Taiwan in 2004, and it is now in talks with China about getting a new national track and field stadium. The parting has not been entirely amicable; Taiwan and Grenada are now locked in a financial dispute over loans that Grenada received to finance the construction of its airport.

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About Bruce

Work for sustainable development of small islands; ex-Peace Corps (Volunteer and staff) in LA & Caribbean; cruised Caribbean on S/Y Meander for three years; like small tropical islands, French canals, Umbria, Tasmania, and NZ. Married 50 years. Former President (1995 to 2016) of Island Resources Foundation.
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