It’s time to create an Indo-Pacific and Bahamas connection

Dear Editor,

To the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism. Today, The Bahamas stands on the crossroads.

COVID-19 has exposed fatal flaws between the country’s biggest diplomatic ties: The United States and the Republic of China.

For years, we’ve relied on the United States as our biggest clientele for tourism, for regional counter-narcotics operations and disaster relief. China has become the Bahamas’s ATM, where we keep borrowing cash from them for infrastructure and trade. We basically thrive on those two countries for everything without any sort of second thoughts about this. When COVID reached its pinnacle, the US has fallen to near disgrace and China’s secrecy has made it unreliable.

China has kept everyone in confusion for months about the virus, which may have started around late last year. It delayed any information. At a time like this, secrecy is not an option and this behavior has made them untrustworthy. Africans have been targeted for no reason in China and Africa, other than racism.

The U.S. is no better, thanks to garbage right wing conspiracy theories and anti-lockdown protests, dangerously exposing themselves for the sake of herd immunity and the economy and the worst of it all, attempting to rush the reopening of non-essential businesses without assessing the risks.

Herd immunity can be achieved in the U.S., but if they travel to The Bahamas while the virus is mutating inside them, we’ll get a more powerful version of COVID. If that happens, almost everyone will be infected and almost four thousand can die. It will be the same story with the Spaniards being unaffected by small pox on San Salvador, but the Arawaks died when they came into contact with the other colonists because the natives weren’t used to it.

In a nutshell, the Americans and Chinese are turning more and more undisciplined, being liars, racist, unreliable and rebellious to the point that they’re going to infect and potentially kill about a million just so they can prove a point, politically ruin one another or make up false stories. Until the U.S. and China clean up their acts, these places should be the last places on Earth for Bahamians to go for vacations and/or college. The influx of Chinese workers should be frozen and the flow of American tourists to be lowered drastically to below 500 (With the exception of active-duty U.S. military staff and state department diplomats). The thing is, we’re not throwing them under the bus, but both countries need to set an example by cleaning up the mess created by unreliable reports and rebellious acts.

However, without American tourists or Chinese workers when COVID-19 subsidies, the Bahamian economy and livelihood will be ruined without a financial failsafe. It’s time to clean up our act and create a new safety net and the expansion of the country’s trading partners, which is the creation of the Indo-Pacific/Bahamas connection.

The House of Parliament needs to re-evaluate tourism and do massive overhauls to the way we do business and without borrowing to much cash. In short, we have to be open-minded.

With the proper citizen discipline and excellent response to COVID-19 found in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan, the Indo-Pacific region should be The Bahamas’ next market focus for the next 10 to 20 years. Even though those countries are thousands of miles away, we can have various bilateral trade agreements, embassies being established there, tourism market development, educational expansion and foreign diplomatic and military aid. Everything should be as mutual as humanly possible for The Bahamas.

Japan has been one of the other countries where we get hurricane relief supplies, recovery funds and most of our cars from, behind the US. For starters, I say we expand our diplomatic relationship with that nation. We can import more agricultural foods on land and at sea, high-tech and industrial products directly. Since their educational standards still remain solid, we can create a scholarship road to Japanese universities and institutions, where we can send intelligent Bahamians all while improving our education physically and digitally as well.

Australia and New Zealand are places that the government hasn’t yet established diplomatic ties to. Like Japan, their farmlands are favorable for agricultural trade deals. Despite having some of the toxic political polarization that the U.S. has, educational standards remain relatively stable and college life resembles that of U.S. and Canadian institutions. The Australians and New Zealanders constantly deal with the scourge of the drug cartels trafficking meth, so we can establish a law enforcement and military training regime and establish a new joint Australia, New Zealand and Bahamas counter-narcotics operation on top of the DEA operating in the country.

South Korea boasts high-tech goods from Samsung and Hyundai. Their brand of industrialization is a unique, one-of-a-kind success story ranging from construction, smartphones and making cars to military development. This makes them favorable as a industrial export ally. The ROK military is the sixth most powerful armed force on Earth, one of the largest standing forces with more than three million soldiers, almost 600,000 reserve personal and the 10th highest military budget. Not only we can get highly reliable technology, but we can ally with one of the most well-funded, well-developed and armed countries in the rest of East Asia and the world behind America. Our police and defense force will also need their expertise in serious training.

Singapore and Taiwan has great financial structures that The Bahamas can attempt to build on. We always had a unique financial system, but with those countries, we can enhance our system to a new level. Some of their judicial competence and development can bring up our standards and zero tolerance to street crime and corruption.

With all of these benefits. Do we really want to be stuck with just two conflicting countries? Or we can go off and make some new friends?

When we can finally travel and start to clean up our own bad habits, we can begin to get new allies and we must push hard to keep up. There’s no hard feelings with the U.S. and China, we’re just trying to making a living and progress as a growing country and the Indo-Pacific region is a prime opportunity to make it happen.

– Ammaka Russell

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