Despite a stinging rebuke from the Chinese embassy in The Bahamas, the U.S. embassy is standing by recent comments a U.S. official made about China.
“The U.S. embassy stands by what our leadership had to say during their visit last week,” a U.S. embassy official told The Nassau Guardian on Saturday.
“And as [U.S. State Department] Undersecretary [David] Hale said, the United States wishes to have a robust trade relationship, economic relationship, that benefits both China and the United States so as long as it’s based on free, fair and reciprocal principals.
“And we expect that other countries will want the same. And we encourage our partners to review the financing terms of Chinese companies carefully to ensure that all deals and contracts in The Bahamas, in fact, serve the interests and needs of the Bahamian people.”
The Chinese embassy accused the United States of trying “to sabotage China’s relationship and cooperation” with countries like The Bahamas.
The Chinese embassy said that all Chinese projects in The Bahamas have been 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 embassy said.
“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.”
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 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.”