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China is building big influence on America’s Caribbean doorstep

PortandTerminal.com, November 9, 2020

WASHINGTON – While we’ve been preoccupied with Chinese trade wars and elections, China has been busy extending its reach and influence right on America’s doorstep.

The New York Times reported today that China has offered Jamaica loans and expertise to build miles of new highways. That’s the way China operates. They make infrastructure investments in developing countries, (Greece included), and when the loans can’t be repaid, China takes over. They call it helping out, others call it debt-trap diplomacy.

Throughout the Caribbean, China has donated security equipment to military and police forces and built a network of Chinese cultural centers. And it has dispatched large shipments of test kits, masks and ventilators to help governments respond to the pandemic.

The initiatives are part of a quiet but assertive push by China in recent years to expand its footprint and influence in the region through government grants and loans, investments by Chinese companies, and diplomatic, cultural and security efforts.

Throughout the Caribbean, it has donated security equipment to military and police forces, and built a network of Chinese cultural centers. And it has dispatched large shipments of test kits, masks and ventilators to help governments respond to the pandemic.

America concerned

While governments in the region have welcomed Beijing’s interest, the Trump administration has viewed China’s growing presence — and its potential to challenge Washington’s influence in the region — with concern and suspicion. America is not wrong to be worried.

The region has strategic importance as a hub for logistics, banking and commerce, analyst say, and could have great security value in a military conflict because of its proximity to the United States.

China’s efforts in the region are part of its global strategy to forge deep economic ties and strong diplomatic relationships around the world, in part through the building of major infrastructure projects under its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

Read the New York Times’ full coverage of this story by clicking here (paywall).

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