NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas will be very careful in its involvement in conflicts between The United States and the People’s Republic of China, said Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Sidney Collie.
“Well you know geo-politics and being what it is, the zone of influence is a big deal for superpowers,” Collie told Eyewitness News, when asked about America’s growing concern of China’s presence and involvement in The Bahamas.
“…So when you are talking about one superpower beginning to overreach into the zone of influence of another superpower, there’s political tension and global geo-political tension.
“The United States is a military and financial power. China is a military and financial power but arising. America is established. The only superpower.
“And so anytime there are any perceived threat to its dominance, either in the region, in the hemisphere or globally, they are going to take steps to protect that position.”
Earlier this month, a top official in the U.S. State Department encouraged The Bahamas to ensure its dealings with China serves the interest of the Bahamian people.
United States Under Secretary for Political Affairs in the State Department, David Hale made the comments following a meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and a delegation on America’s continuing support for The Bahamas in the wake of deadly Hurricane Dorian.
“We encourage our partners at all times to review the financing terms with Chinese companies carefully, to ensure all deals and contracts, in the case of The Bahamas, in fact, serve the interest and the needs of the Bahamian people,” he told reporters
In March, The Bahamas was among a group of Caribbean leaders invited to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida.
Leaders of the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Haiti, Jamaica and Saint Lucia also attended the meeting.
The meeting was billed as an effort to strengthen security cooperation with countries in the region and counter China’s “predatory economic practices”, according to a White House statement.
The statement prompted a response from the Chinese Embassy in Nassau, which branded the accusations “irresponsible” and an attempt to disintegrate China’s solidarity with other developing countries.
Asked whether he believes the U.S. was trying to protect its influence in the recent pronouncements, Collie said he has not seen them.
“The Caribbean and especially The Bahamas and other close countries have long historical and significant economic ties with The Unite States,” he noted.
“Sixty percent of our dollar is derived from tourism, and 75 to 85 percent of our tourist market comes from the United States.
“So The Bahamas government is going to be very careful about how it gets itself involved in conflicts between superpowers.
“The Bahamas has longstanding diplomatic relations with the United States and diplomatic relations with China.
“So The Bahamas is going to be in a position. diplomatically as an independent country, to look out for its own best, national and economic interests.”