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Political statements that make no sense

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has a clear communications strategy: Wake up every morning and say something to make it into the newspapers. 

The party is trying to be relevant. That can’t be faulted. It suffered a devastating defeat last election, and desperately wants to come back to power.

Often, though, there is no deep reflection before the PLP speaks. And the superficiality, and hypocrisy, of its commentary is obvious to all right-thinking Bahamians.

PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis said yesterday that the government should not thrust The Bahamas into the middle of an ongoing trade war between China and the United States.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis is scheduled to join the leaders of Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia in a multilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump today in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida.

Earlier this week, in a statement addressing the meeting, the White House Office of the Press Secretary said Trump “looks forward to working” with The Bahamas and other Caribbean countries to “counter China’s predatory economic practices”.

On Wednesday, Haigang Yin, the charge d’affaires of the Embassy of China in The Bahamas, fired back at the U.S., accusing it of attempting to “disintegrate solidarity and cooperation between China and other developing countries”.

“The accusations of predatory economic practices are completely baseless, unreasonable and contradictory to the facts,” he said.

He added: “Facing the fabricated lies and irresponsible accusations, we have faith in the people of The Bahamas with whom rests the final judgment. We are confident that the Bahamian people and government will not be misled by others.”

The U.S. and China are involved in a trade war initiated by the U.S. China is rising to become the richest and most powerful country in the world. That cannot be stopped. But the U.S. is trying to slow that development. This is classic rivalry between the old empire and the ascending one.

The U.S. has largely only considered the Caribbean a security concern for years. It polices drug and human smuggling, and that’s mostly that.

China has a strategy of investment and strategic engagement of every region in the world. In recent years it has invested billions of dollars in The Bahamas, for example.

The U.S. does not like China’s growing role in the region. Yet, the U.S. has simply been not as interested in investing in our little island economies.

The Trump administration has taken a more hawkish approach to China. Hence, the U.S. mentioned Chinese relations with the region in its statement in the run-up to the meeting with Caribbean leaders.

The Minnis administration has not gotten publicly involved in the dispute between the two superpowers at all. The comments by Davis make no sense. Minnis is going to meet the American president as part of a Caribbean delegation. That’s it. The policy of The Bahamas is to be friends with both.

In fact, it was the PLP under Davis and Perry Christie that nearly got The Bahamas into a global conflict by considering giving the Chinese fishing rights in Bahamian waters, right off the coast of the U.S. That idea did not proceed. No doubt, the Americans warned the then PLP administration of the dire consequences of even considering such a foolhardy plan.

These remarks by the PLP leader are unnecessary and without purpose. The opposition should speak with reason and purpose. Intervene to sensibly challenge the government. Advocate policy. Defend the rights of Bahamians. It should not just speak for speaking’s sake when it has nothing sensible to say.

When you speak too often and there is no substance to your speech, the people tune you out. The PLP should be careful that its talk-first, think-next policy does not get it to this point.

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