China set to move into US ‘backyard’ with national development plan for Grenada

China set to move into US ‘backyard’ with national development plan for Grenada

December 21, 2017 – By Caribbean News Now contributor

Grenada’s capital, St George’s. Photo: Wikimedia

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — If the Grenadian government accepts a multibillion dollar plan, it would become the first in the world to opt for the wholesale adoption of a Chinese development blueprint – increasing Beijing’s influence in what is frequently described as ‘America’s backyard’.     

The Chinese foreign ministry said this month that “China Development Bank, at the request of the Grenadian government, is helping them draft a national development strategy”, the South China Morning Post reported.

It said the Grenadian government “assumed the primary responsibility for the development of their own country” and that China was “willing to provide necessary assistance to their economic and social development upon request”.

Wang Yingjie, a lead researcher involved in the drafting of the Grenada national development strategic plan, told the Post this month the plan had been finished recently and “should be in the hands of the Grenadian government already”.

According to the Post, Beijing’s blueprint envisions the construction of massive infrastructure projects in the small Caribbean island, which has a population of about 100,000. They include the construction of a highway connecting the major towns on its main island and a railway line encircling it.

The plan also calls for the building of deepwater ports that could accommodate a large number of cruise and cargo ships, a large wind farm to replace diesel-fuelled generators and a modernised airport with additional, longer runways.

It also sees a future for Grenada as an offshore tax haven for foreign companies or individuals.

The website of the economic and commercial counsellor’s office at the Chinese embassy in Grenada says Chinese experts involved in the project visited Grenada in August last year and met government officials in charge of diplomatic relations, economic development, tourism, agriculture, industry and education.

A Grenadian hotel manager said there were not many Chinese tourists on the islands, with most guests coming from Europe, the United States or Canada.

“We need development,” he said. “For development we need investment. It can come from China or any country.”

He said local people just wanted any bilateral deal to be transparent and fair, and most had no idea China was drafting a national development plan for Grenada.

“Can anyone blame the Grenadians for looking and accepting help from anywhere? This means the entire region is about to move on with their economic development, while policymakers in the US are preoccupied with helping the super rich and protecting child molesters, rapists, sexual perverts and a con man,” commented one senior US intelligence official with a specific operational interest in the region.

Meanwhile, documents from the Chinese team working on the development blueprint that have been shared at domestic academic conferences show Grenada’s main island divided into seven different zones.

An economic centre would be built around its capital, St George’s, with a central business district, industrial zone and cargo transport hub.

The central mountainous area would be left alone as a national park with limited human activities, mostly for ecological tourism and education.

The five other districts would be dedicated, respectively, to renewable energy, agriculture and fruit processing, fishing, general tourism and medical tourism.

The Chinese team warned in one document that the development envisioned by blueprint would not be achieved unless the Grenadian government took strong, effective measures to ensure and protect the interests of foreign investors, something that is currently in doubt as a result of ongoing attempts by the Grenada government to expropriate a privately operated resort on the island.

Jared Ward, a historian at the University of Akron who has studied China’s Caribbean relations during the Cold War, warned that China’s increased presence in Caribbean affairs could be a subtle jab at US dominance of the Western Hemisphere at a time when Washington was pushing Beijing in the South China Sea.

“At a time when Washington is accusing China of bullying smaller countries in the South China Sea, Beijing has repeatedly held the Caribbean up as an example of America’s history of big-power chauvinism,” Ward wrote in an article published on the website of the Jamestown Foundation in July.

“However, China has also been the target of criticisms common to its efforts elsewhere in the developing world. Local companies are often shut out of projects; all contracts are awarded to Chinese companies through a secretive bidding process. Furthermore, Chinese job creation promises often fall short and rely primarily on Chinese nationals,” he noted.

Chinese economic penetration and influence in the region has expanded considerably in recent years, ranging from building new hospitals in Trinidad in the south to a multibillion dollar megaresort in The Bahamas in the north.

Earlier this year, state-controlled China Communications Construction signed a US$1 billion contract with the government of Panama to build a deepwater port, while China Harbour Engineering and Jamaican authorities struck a deal last year to build a US$1.5 billion mega port.

Such geo-political maneuvering also includes Russia, which has been expanding its influence and presence in the region, and now Iran, which recently announced that, due to the ongoing presence of the US Navy in the Persian Gulf, the Iranian Navy will be moving a significant number of its warships into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and that they will be making port calls in the region.

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Comments

  • detow  On January 5, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    It is good to see that China is moving into areas previously dominated by the USA and that they are offering opportunities for development in areas where the Americans felt to be part of their protectorate. It is time for the playing field to be leveled. However, the developing countries of the Caribbean must, when dealing with China or any other super power, ensure that they are not caught in the Guyana trap in which the Marriott hotel was build with Chinese money, Chinese labour and Chinese materials but no Guyanese labour. Part of the deal must clearly be NO LOCAL LABOURERS ON THE PROJECT, NO DEAL. The first part of any development agreement should include the training of locals for whatever skill sets would be needed in the process. Care should also be taken to ensure that all aspects of the projects are completed before the Chinese leave the island.
    Years after the Chinese have left Guyana the Marriott hotel is still to be completed.

  • Born Guyanese  On January 5, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Caribbean nationals better start learning Chinese and Russian. Pretty soon it could be a requirement for dealing with their foreign overlords. Make no mistake about it, they will be relegated to second-class or third-class citizens in what used to be their homelands. Throw these ‘deals’ out the window!! It is better to conceive and implement your own slower-paced development plan with no strings attached, than to make deals with the devil!

  • walter  On January 6, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    People never learn, modus operandi, first find weak and greedy politicians, sign everything, smile and smile, then take every thing they can get their hands on, break and destroy all agreements. Leave and find another bunch of weak and greedy politicians, start over…………………….

  • Gigi  On January 6, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    @detow, surely, hiring local labour should be based on prerequisite skill(s) needed versus being local by default. There is a name for that kind of thinking – affirmative action – and no good comes from that practice. Not too long ago, there was an article in the Guyana media of a house collapsing weeks after it was constructed by a local contractor and his workforce. Sure, local labourers can fetch wood, pass tools, pound a nail or two, and hold wood in place. But let’s not kid ourselves here, there are high level skills in designing and constructing a building if its function is to last more than a few weeks.

    Just recently, there was an article in the Washington Post on DC public schools, which are no different from poor black public schools in America – major deficits in academic performance, high absentism, poor social skills, dysfunctional homes, and majority black teachers. The article highlighted not only the high percent of graduation rates, but also college acceptance rates even though the majority of the students were not proficient in math and English required to graduate. The few teachers who agreed to be interviewed stated working in a system where they were forced to pass students even on exams that they did not take. This prompted on black teacher to say that “black teachers should not teach black students.” I’ve met black teachers whom, based on their disposition and level of intelligence were products of this very system that made it possible for them to graduate school and college and become teachers. Would you want them teaching your kids? Likewise, would you want a local contractor/labourer with questionable skills building your house?

    @Born Guyanese, I take it that you are unaware of the intellectual benefits of learning a foreign language and that such benefits also translate to employment advantages. Take a look around at the major third world countries and you will see that, for the most part, their people can only “conceive and build” giant heaps of garbage everywhere thus leaving a permanent stench emanating from those residing in it. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Georgetown’s ‘king’ of the trash pile. Why, the guy actually looks like a giant turd! And he ain’t the only one. Now, of course you people don’t have a problem with trash because you’ve become immune to the look and smell and have come to actually prefer it. Not so for the civilized with delicate sensitivities. They are forced to insulate themselves and hold their noses when forced into such a situation. It’s like riding the subway with a homeless street person. The usually get the car all to themselves because few can bear the smell even if they can ignore the heap cause.

    Slow paced, you say. Try zero pace. When the PPP gained office, they did a fantastic job of reducing Guyana’s debt through payments and write-offs and rebuilding the economy. The PNC’s history of running up massive debt coupled with their lack of brain smarts resulted in no foreign entity wanting to do business with Guyana unless the conditions were favourable to them too and not just a handful of individuals getting rich by ruining the country. It’s called good business sense. What Guyanese enjoyed soon after the PNC came to power was what remained when the British left. When that ran out, the blackouts, the rusty tap water when there was water coming through, the food and drug shortages, crumbling infrastructure from neglect, brain drain, massive crime, mediocre education, and a whole host of other plagues began to besiege the country. This is what the PPP had to deal with when they took office, and they made the best of it. You can be sure that by the time the ABCE countries decided to allow a legally and democratically elected govt to take office there will be no unclaimed natural or capital resources worthy of their interference. Let’s hope that if the lingua franca is to remain only anglophone, that British and not the US prevail. Either way, you will still remain a third class citizen in this land you claim as your home.

  • Linda  On January 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    @GiGi…..You were batting SIX in your first three paragraphs BUT you just couldn’t help revealing your racist, political bias in your last paragraph could you???? It’s sad really that “you people” cannot rise to the occasion of being a true Guyanese and not always looking toward your Motherland….which by the way is one of the nastiest countries in the world.

  • Tata  On January 7, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Gigi, you’re nothing but an IMBECILE.
    You are exactly what the CIVILIZE world is fighting against. BIGOTRY.
    Martin Luther King died so PEOPLE like YOU, have the freedom of speech in this great country of America.
    But again, You have been in America long enough to have some form of therapeutic help because anyone with such skewed concept of a particular group of people, is very dangerous.
    I read the CRAP you write about each time and feel some empathy for you because this is not NORMAL. Someone needs to UNMASK you because
    You are a “suicide bomber” waiting to explode.

    Whatever or however did you WRONG in your early life-surely created the unthinkable. I really and truly hope you find some PEACE. Listen to the lyric by the singer KESHA …….PRAYING.
    I truly hope you find some P- E-A-C-E.
    Also remember, the Chinese just like the Guyanese Of Indian ancestry, do have a PROBLEM with being INTEGRATED into other society.
    I do hope the Guyana government get a handle on this situation because Guyanese will forgeiners in their homeland.

    • Ali  On January 8, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      Ban these bigots. Very offensive diatribe fit for a flush down the loo.

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