The Chinese embassy in Nassau yesterday fired back at the United States government, accusing it of attempting “to sabotage China’s relationship and cooperation” with countries like The Bahamas and launching a “strategy of containment and coercion against China”.
The embassy’s comments came nearly a week after a high ranking official at the United States state department warned The Bahamas to take a “cautionary note” in its dealings with China as Chinese intentions “have not been so clear”.
“The recent remarks of U.S. officials on China’s cooperation with The Bahamas is nothing new but another cliche of the U.S. administration to sabotage China’s relationship,” the embassy said in a statement.
“In fact, to counter China’s increasing influence and slow down China’s growth, during the past several years, the Trump administration has launched an all-dimensional strategy of containment and coercion against China.
“That’s why we saw the lingering trade war between [the] U.S. and China, the deployment of U.S. warships in South China Sea, the sanctions on Chinese high-tech companies, the smearing diplomacy against China by U.S. officials all around the world and interfering in China’s internal affairs relating to Hong Kong and Xinjiang.”
So far this year, U.S. officials have raised multiple concerns with regards to China’s involvement in the Caribbean, particularly The Bahamas.
In March, prior to U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with Caribbean leaders, the White House Office of the Press Secretary said Trump was looking forward “to working with countries in the region to strengthen our security cooperation and counter China’s predatory economic practices”.
A few months later, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said the United States cannot allow China to exploit the recovery and rebuilding of The Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian for its own nefarious purposes and gain “a foothold just 50 miles from the coast of Florida”.
On December 6, Julie Chung, principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, told The Nassau Guardian, “…It’s not up to us to say what the government of [The] Bahamas should or should not take from the Chinese in terms of any kind of business or investment or assistance.
“That is up to the sovereign decision of the Bahamian government. What I would say is that in many, many cases – and there’s a long history of this – China’s role, Chinese investment and Chinese intentions have not been so clear.”
However, the Chinese embassy shot that down yesterday, pointing to its “friendly relations…on the basis of equality and mutual benefit” with The Bahamas.
The embassy said, “China is [a] peace-loving country. So far, China has established diplomatic relations with 180 countries. China has never invaded other countries. China will continue to develop friendly relations with all other countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
“In this regard, we are proud of the cooperation between China and The Bahamas. The Thomas Robinson stadium was a gift project of China. The Airport Gateway expressway constructed by [a] Chinese company using China’s low-interest loan years ago is still one of the best roads in Nassau.
“The Baha Mar resort created 6,000 plus jobs. The Pointe project is about to finish, thanks to the devotion of hundreds of Bahamians and Chinese workers. And the North Abaco Port project played an important role in shipping disaster relief materials into the island after Hurricane Dorian.
“All these projects were carried out with the admission and supervision of the Bahamian government. It is up to the Bahamian people to judge whether these projects are good or not.
“The linkage of Chinese projects with national security or debt-trap, as mentioned by U.S. officials, is absurd and contrary to the fact. The Bahamian government and people know better than the U.S. what the country needs.”
The embassy noted that after Hurricane Dorian, China provided $600,000 cash aid to The Bahamas.
“The Chinese government is ready to provide more assistance in reconstruction and now is in closed consultation with the Bahamian government,” the statement said.
“It’s hard to understand why the U.S. [does] not want China to take part in the reconstruction. It’s doubtful that the U.S. wants to do all the reconstruction work.”
The Bahamas maintains good relationships with both the United States and China, which both have embassies in Nassau.
Last week, Chung advised the Bahamian government to determine which country’s values align the most with The Bahamas.
“I talked about values a lot today because for me that is the most important thing,” she said.
“I mean there’s economics or security, but it’s our principal values that we share between the United States and [The] Bahamas. And so, the area of human rights and democracy I think is so critical.
“I mean that creates a foundation for a transparent, good governance government and a civil society. So, we’ve seen now scenes in Hong Kong where there has been a lot of suppression of the protestors there.”
However, China’s embassy yesterday raised an issue with the United States’ core values.
“The U.S. officials talked about values,” it said.
“Well, let’s see what the U.S. [has] done during the past decades. It used human rights and counter-terrorism as a cover to wage wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, leaving millions of innocent civilians killed and many more displaced.
“The U.S. withdrew from the U.N. climate change negotiation, withdrew from UNESCO, withdrew from [the] U.N. Human Rights Council and other multilateral organizations.
“The U.S. started trade [wars] with not only China, but Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Europe. It is easy to see that the U.S. cares about nothing but its own interest. And that is the core of U.S. values.”
The embassy added: “Recently, the U.S. seems to care very much about Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Don’t forget, they both are inalienable parts of China, and Xinjiang and Hong Kong-related issues are purely China’s domestic affairs.
“For a period of time, the U.S. has been behind the scene and using human rights, ethnicity and religion as excuses to incite anti-government and separation movement in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
“The aim of the U.S is to undermine China’s stability and contain China’s growth, but its attempt will never succeed. The Chinese government and people are determined in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests.”