China says US criticisms of investments in Jamaica groundless

China says US criticisms of investments in Jamaica groundless

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, January 23, 2020

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THE Chinese Government has categorised the statements made by United States (US) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday about Chinese investments in Jamaica, as groundless accusations, stating that it strongly opposes those views.

Pompeo, who arrived in the island on Tuesday for a two-day working visit, cautioned Jamaica and the Caribbean against accepting “easy money from places like China”.

Speaking at a policy discussion on US/Caribbean relations at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston, Pompeo questioned, “What good is it if it feeds corruption and undermine your rule of law. What good are those investments if, in fact, they ruin your environment and don't create jobs for your people?”

The US Secretary of State said Jamaica and the region should examine investments evenly and thoroughly. “The Chinese Communist Party does present a particular challenge and we have made no bones about saying to nations just make sure that this is a transaction that is on the up and up, that this investment is being made for economic purposes,” he stated.

In a statement on the pronouncements, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Kingston, Xia Shaowu, said China's cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean stands on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

“Such cooperation has been open and transparent, in compliance with local laws and market rules, paying high attention to protecting environment and increasing local employment, and has given a strong boost to the economic development and improvement of people's well-being in the region. Indisputable facts have shown that it is opportunity and tangible benefits that China brings to Latin America and the Caribbean, which have been welcomed by them,” he said.

Pompeo suggested that the United States is a better alternative to Chinese investments. “Western firms, American firms operate according to values proven to produce good deals and quality work, the work that we do in democracies, things like transparent contracts, respect for the rule of law, honest, straight forward accounting practices,” he said, pointing out that some of those businesses that represent the US's values and desire for partnership are already represented here in Jamaica.

“We can grow all of our nations together...we want to help each of your countries catalyse private investment and infrastructure. We have created a new development finance corporation inside of our State Department; it can help your private sector stand on its own,” he told the roomful of state officials, diplomats, and other interests.

China further argued that Latin America and the Caribbean states, as sovereign countries, “have every right to determine their own foreign relations including choosing their trade and investment partners. Others are in no position to impose interference or coercion out of ulterior motives,” Xia said.

In the meantime, the secretary of state said another reason for a deeper relationship between the US and the region is the common thrust to advance democracy.

“It's clear that this hemisphere is moving towards freedom, more than we have ever seen before, from Brazil to what happened in the past few months in Bolivia, people are demanding democracy and freedom”.

He said this is evident in how the nations of the region have reacted to the Venezuelan crisis, pointing out that like the PetroCaribe Agreement, the Nicolás Maduro regime is “fading into the sunset”.

Pompeo said Caribbean countries would not have to take on these challenges alone as the Donald Trump Administration is action- oriented. “Endless discussions and empty promises won't protect our security, our economies and our freedom,” he remarked, noting Trump's hosting of five Caribbean leaders for dialogue last year, and the expansion of the US cybersecurity partnership in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, Pompeo said the visit to Jamaica and the region had been inevitable.

“It's not about America forcing this relationship or these countries forcing a relationship on America, it fits, it works and it's important,” he stated.

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