PM: Zero pressure from U.S. to alter China/Bahamas relations

PM: Zero pressure from U.S. to alter China/Bahamas relations
Prime Minister, Dr. Huber Minnis.

Minnis says he told Trump China and The Bahamas will remain allies


NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said he reaffirmed to United States President Donald Trump during multilateral meetings last Friday that The Bahamas and China are allies which both enjoy a “good working relationship, and that will not change”.

Minnis joined the leaders of Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti and St. Lucia in multilateral meetings with U.S. National Security Minister John Bolton, and U.S. President Donald Trump last Friday in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida.

In a statement preceding the meeting, the White House Office of the Press Secretary said the U.S. president said the meeting would center around Trump’s vision for diverse relationships in the Caribbean and future opportunities for energy investment; strengthening security cooperation; and “counter China’s predatory economic practices”.

During a press conference at Lynden Pindling International Airport on Saturday, the prime minister was asked whether China’s “predatory economic practices were discussed” at Friday’s meeting

”The issue with China came up during one of the earlier meetings,” he said.

“I pointed out very clearly that China and The Bahamas are allies and we have a good working relationship, and that will not change.

“But, in terms of what was in the press or whatever, no; to that extent no.”

Responding to the U.S.’ statement while speaking to The Nassau Guardian last Wednesday, Charge D’Affaires of the Embassy of The People’s Republic of China in The Bahamas Haigang Yin accused the U.S. of attempting to disintegrate solidarity and cooperation between China and other developing countries.

“The accusation of predatory economic practices are completely baseless, unreasonable and contradictory to the fact,” Yin said.

He called the assertions from the U.S. “fabricated, and irresponsible”.

Asked if there was any pressure from the U.S. to change the nature of The Bahamas’ relationship with China, Minnis told the media there was not.

He said, “No, absolutely none, absolutely none, zero, zero.”

He was also asked if the United States has committed to further investment in The Bahamas, given its concerns about China’s growing presence in The Bahamas economy and its capital investments in the region.

Minnis said there was no such discussion.

China’s outward direct investment stood at around $129.8 billion in 2018.

Its outward direct investment in emerging markets as part of its Belt and Road Initiatives, which aims to increase China’s investment in developing countries, particularly African nations, increased by eight percent last year.

Last week, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leader Philip Brave Davis warned the government against putting The Bahamas in the middle of a trade war between China and the United States.

Pointing out that the U.S. and China are two of the Bahamas’ largest partners, Davis suggested that instead of getting in the middle of a trade war, the prime minister and foreign affairs minister should encourage both nations to come to a resolution.

China’s continued investment in The Bahamas was raised during the 2017 general election campaign, with then Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis charging that the Christie administration was too reliant on Chinese investment.

At the time, China’s involvement in the controversial Baha Mar development and the British Colonial Hotel became the subject of national discourse.

Hong Kong-based conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises became the sole owner of the Baha Mar resort, two years after developer Baha Mar Limited (BML) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2015.