Did China push Barbados to ditch The Queen?

China attracts a good deal of bad press in the West, sometimes deservedly, at other times unfairly, as in the recent suggestion by a highly regarded British newspaper that Barbados dropped The Queen as head of state and became a republic at China's behest.

It is well known that there has been a steady increase in China's influence in the wider Caribbean, which looks set to increase even further, as regional countries seem to be taking the advice of former United States President Barack Obama to deal with those giving them the “biggest bang for their buck”.

When Mr Obama visited Jamaica in April 2015, he told a town hall event for young people on The University of the West Indies Mona campus that the US encouraged Chinese investments around the world, but with one stipulation — the deals needed to benefit the people of those countries.

Beijing pursues a “One China” policy, which means a country cannot simultaneously have diplomatic relations with both China and Taiwan, which the former maintains is a rogue province that must return to China.

Both China and Taiwan offer financial aid to countries to get their recognition, with China winning this game of competitive bidding during the last decade in which several countries have switched from Taipei to Beijing, leaving only 13 nations and the Vatican City on Taiwan's side.

Some examples: Costa Rica maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan until 2007 when it opened relations with China; Panama broke off relations with Taiwan in 2017 and embraced China; the Dominican Republic ended relations with Taiwan in 2018 and established diplomatic relations with China.

Hold-outs like Belize, St Kitts, Guatemala, and St Vincent and the Grenadines have stuck with Taiwan, extracting more aid each year. The Republic of Haiti recognised Taiwan in 1956 but Taiwan has had to increase its aid to head off a switch to China. It was alleged that Taiwan offered US$150 million for rural electrification in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, after Haiti “threatened to end diplomatic relations”.

Some countries have switched more than once. St Lucia, for example, dropped Taiwan in 1997 when it switched to China. However, in 2007, St Lucia and Taiwan resumed diplomatic relations.

When Mr George Price was elected to Government in Belize in 1989, he quickly moved to re-establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan, causing China to sever ties. The suspected motive? US$10 million in concessionary loans from Taiwan.

In December 1985, Nicaragua switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China, which was not surprising because of the leftist political philosophy of President Daniel Ortega. In 1990, the then new president, Ms Violeta Chamorro switched back to Taiwan.

On regaining the presidency in 2006, President Ortega retained ties with Taiwan. The answer that suggests itself is the financial support provided by Taiwan — a loan of US$100 million in February, 2019. However, Mr Ortega switched again from Taiwan to China in December 2021.

Also, in December 2021, Ms Xiomara Castro was elected president of Honduras. During the election campaign she announced her intention to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

It is widely felt that whether she fulfils her own campaign promise to switch that nation's relations to the People's Republic of China depends on Taiwan and China — who will offer the most.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login


  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy