United States (US) Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts said yesterday The Bahamas should accept assistance from China if it needs it, while calling concerns over tensions between the US and China a “false idea”.
Pitts was responding to a question from The Nassau Guardian about potential concerns from the US over China offering assistance to repair the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
“I think if The Bahamas wants to accept assistance from China, then they should accept assistance if they need it,” Pitts said on the sidelines of a tour of the new US Embassy building on East Street, which is currently under construction.
“I think sometimes countries get into this false idea that all we do around the world is belly up to China and have this sort of conflict. It really isn’t like that, or at least it shouldn’t be that way.
“It disturbs me that there’s that mentality. I don’t think that at all describes our relationship with China here in The Bahamas.”
On Tuesday, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg said the last estimate for repairs needed at the stadium was $30 million, but current estimates could be higher.
Bowleg said Chinese government has offered to assist with funding the works.
He also hinted that the offer includes a request for Chinese workers to be used, something he indicated the current administration does not support.
The stadium was a $30 million gift from the People’s Republic of China to The Bahamas with a formal handing over taking place in 2011.
But in the nearly 12 years since, the stadium has significantly deteriorated.
The revelation that China once again wants to assist the country with infrastructural developments may well concern the top brass of the US military.
Back in early March, Commander of US Northern Command General Glen VenHerck, warned of “economic coercion” in The Bahamas, while claiming that China has built its largest embassy in the world in The Bahamas.
The US Embassy in The Bahamas clarified in a statement shortly after those remarks were made that the Chinese Embassy in The Bahamas was not China’s largest in the world.
As it relates to China assisting The Bahamas, Pitts said other areas would concern her more than help with the stadium.
“I might have a different opinion if we were talking about something where it might actually affect Bahamian national security. For example, telecommunications or fundamental infrastructure,” Pitts said.
“If China’s offering to fix the stadium and The Bahamas wants to, that’s not my business, right?”