Thu, 16 Sep 2021 02:00:08 -0400
Tapia fires latest salvo in verbal war with ChinaBY ARTHUR HALL
The tug of war between the United States and China is continuing with neither country appearing ready to surrender an inch.
The latest pull on the rope came on Thursday when US Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia doubled down on his warning for Jamaica to be wary of the gifts and support from the Chinese.
Tapia told a meeting of the Rotary Club of Kingston Jamaica that the Chinese Government does not share the values shared by the US and Jamaica.
“The values include governance, free press, religious tolerance and respect for human rights,” said Tapia.
He argued that Jamaica is being courted by the Republic of China which has falsely claimed that it wants a relationship built on mutual benefits.
“Ask yourselves one question, why would a communist dictatorship want a democracy to thrive and prosper? This is a good question to ask,” said Tapia as he alleged that if unchecked, China would export some of its worst political practices to Jamaica, “including corruption, mass surveillance, and the repression of individual and collective rights”, declared Tapia.
The US ambassador pointed to recent events in Hong Kong, where a mass protest has been taking place, as proof of the oppressive nature of the Chinese Government and charged that the Jamaican media has not highlighted these issues.
Tapia declared that while he loves the Chinese people, the Chinese Government is a totalitarian one and that must be recognised.
“So we are not anti-China, we are anti the Government of China and the policies they have set forth in ruling…the populace,” said Tapia.
He added that based on the record of the Chinese Government the US has to speak out as Jamaica, through its history, has spoken out against human rights abuses around the world.
Tapia argued that the facts do not support the claims by “State-sponsored” Chinese companies that they are working with Jamaica in a “win-win” situation.
He said while he understands Jamaica's decision to accept low interest rates from the Chinese for its infrastructural projects, the country needs to be wary of the conditions attached.
“It's State sponsored with a broader geopolitical goal in mind,” said Tapia who charged that if you look at the footprint of China across the world it is always where there is a soft spot for corruption.
Pointing to the North Coast Highway Tapia alleged that the average Jamaican cannot pay to use the road while every Jamaican is paying back the Chinese for the money spent constructing it.
He further argued that the Chinese firms are using equipment, which they carried into Jamaica with tax concessions for major projects, to compete against Jamaican firms in smaller projects.
According to Tapia, the US is moving to take back its place in its relationship with Jamaica and he is committed to helping the Jamaican people by increasing exports to America and providing support for infrastructure development.
The Chinese embassy in Kingston declined to respond to the latest comments from Tapia but pointed to a previous release in which it said that Latin America and the Caribbean countries, as independent sovereign countries, have every right to determine their own foreign relations including choosing their trade and investment partners.
In that release the embassy had said: “It seems that some US politicians cannot go anywhere without attacking China, tarnishing China's reputation, starting fires and fanning the flames and sowing discords. They can go on talking the talk if they so wish, but we will continue walking the walk.
“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.”
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