NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A top official in the U.S. State Department yesterday 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, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) implementing partners and other government officials.
The group was reportedly discussing the longstanding and enduring partnership between the two countries, as well as America’s continuing support for The Bahamas in the wake of deadly Hurricane Dorian.
During a press conference following that meeting, Hale was asked about the U.S. government’s concerns regarding China’s increasing presence and involvement in The Bahamas.
“The United States wishes to have a robust trade relationship and economic relationship that benefits both China and the United States, so long as it’s based on free, fair, and reciprocal principals and we expect that other countries would want the same,” he said.
“I would emphasize though, those principals of free, fair and reciprocal.”
Hale continued: “We also understand that countries will seek Chinese investment.
“But 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 stressed that “transparency and accountability” are key principals in that regard.
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.