Thursday, March 23, 2023


US Admits Error on Chinese Influence in The Bahamas: ‘China Has Not Built the Biggest Embassy in The Bahamas’

In what appeared to be an initial attempt to play up China’s influence in The Bahamas, the United States is now laying it on the line–China did not build its biggest embassy in the Bahamas, as previously stated by US generals at a congressional hearing.

US Generals Laura Richardson and Glen VanHerck made the remark on Wednesday in front of the House Armed Services Committee as they warned of China’s influence in the Bahamas and other Caribbean nations, “neighbours” of the United States.

VanHerck said China is “very aggressive” in the Bahamas,where they have built the biggest embassy in the world, with an ambassador who “uses the information space to undermine us each and every day.”

The Chinese embassy had since hit back on Friday. “It can not be further from the truth to suggest that China has built its largest embassy in world in The Bahamas. We’re not even the largest Chinese embassy in the Caribbean.

“Anyone who is familiar with Nassau knows which embassy is the biggest one on the island.”

And in a social media post, Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas Dai Qingli said, “What a compliment!” as she showed a CNN news report of the claim.

The US embassy in The Bahamas responded, “The embassy would like to set the record straight: contrary to recent US congressional testimony, the PRC has not built the biggest embassy around the globe in The Bahamas.”

China and US, both world powers at a tense era in its relationship, have been competing for influence in the region but China has long stressed that its influence is based on mutual benefits and needs.

Chinese Ambassador Hits Back as US Accuses Her of Undermining Them in The Bahamas

As US-China relations sharply deteriorate, Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas Dai Qingli is not backing down and hit back at the United States after US generals say China is expanding in The Bahamas, where it has “built its biggest embassy in the world.”

Qingli, in a social media post, made light of the accusations, “What a compliment!”

US and China’s relationship is fraught with tension after a Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted in the US and was eventually shot down last month. Washington also accused China of aiding Russia in its fight for Ukraine.

Now Senior US Generals have accused Qingli of using the information space in the Bahamas to “undermine us each and every day,” prodding US lawmakers to assign an ambassador to the country, since it has not had a permanent US ambassador since 2011.

“We’ve got to pay more attention to this region,” General Laura Richardson, a commander of the US Southern Command, warned on Wednesday, in a committee hearing.

“The proximity matters. They (The Bahamas and Caribbean countries) are on the 20-yard line of our homeland. We are in a neighborhood, these are our neighbors, and we have got to pay attention to them.”

Richardson and General VanHerck, a commander of the US Northern Command told the House Armed Services Committee that China’s expansion in the Bahamas and other Caribbean countries is “aggressive.”

“The [People’s Republic of China] has the capability and intent to eschew international norms, advance its brand of authoritarianism, and amass power and influence at the expense of these democracies,” Gen. Richarson said.

“The PRC has expanded its ability to extract resources, establish port, manipulate governments through predatory investment practices, and build potential dual-use space facilities — the most space facilities in any combatant command region.”

The US and China are two world economic powers that are jostling for the number one spot. The US has long worried that China is gaining major influence in the region, accusing Beijing of pushing smaller countries into “debt traps.”

China has denied it is competing for influence in the region and said that its relationship with The Bahamas and the Caribbean is rooted in mutual benefit and needs.

COP26: Climate Change Leaders Show Their Hypocrisy. Is the Summit a Fad?

More than one hundred leaders around the world, including the country’s Prime Minister Philip Davis, gathered in Glasglow, Scotland to fight climate change and address the increase in greenhouse gases which according to experts, are having an adverse effect on small island nations like the Bahamas, Barbados and Jamaica, where hurricanes are intensifying in frequency and strength.

Prime Minister Philip Davis called on developed countries to act now to prevent further damage by climate change.

Leaders like US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are agitating for countries to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions. However, one cannot help but notice that these leaders and dignitaries are increasing the usage of these gases and can be accused of not practicing what they preach.

Fox News has dubbed the conference, “gas-guzzling get-together.”

Biden arrived in Glasgow in a 21-vehicle motorcade, including 4 planes and a Marine One helicopter, leaving behind his carbon footprint, which contributes to climate change. His arrival in Scotland follows his stay in Rome where an 85-vehicle motorcade accompanied him while releasing tonnes of fumes in the air.

Yet, he preached from the stage in Glasglow, “…No more time to hang back or sit on the fence or argue among ourselves.”

Biden’s entourage

The British press counted more than 400 private jets that are not climate-friendly which huddled on the runway carrying dignitaries and celebrities to Glasgow. Some used limousines, using tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“Conservative predictions suggest the fleet of private jets arriving for COP26 will blast out 13,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in total — equivalent to the amount consumed by more than 1,600 Britons in a year,” the British newspaper the Daily Mail reported.

One individual uses only 8 tonnes of carbon dioxide in one year.

The British Royal Family was also present preaching for countries to do more to combat climate change and Queen Elizabeth delivered a speech by video, “Time for words, have moved to a time for action,” she said.

But her family burns 3,810 tonnes per year, according to reports. This indicates that they are a part of the problem.

The world’s richest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was also present advocating that “we must all stand together to protect our world.”

Critics have lambasted him for failing to implement green policies at Amazon, and his journey into space this year, has chalked up a significant amount of fossil fuels.

World leaders have failed to deliver on climate change as the summit has had 25 other summits without solutions to the climate change problem.

They seem not to have the solution to keep the planet from heating up above 1.5 degrees Celsius.

China, was not present at the summit even though it produces the greatest amount of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

At the summit, leaders are praised for their lofty statements and rhetoric but if climate change is real, the small island nations will continue to suffer at the hands of richer nations until concrete proposals are presented and world leaders practice what they preach.

This Is Not the First Protest By Chinese Workers. Why This Protest Is Unusual

Nearly one hundred Chinese workers from The Pointe Resort, demonstrated in front of the Chinese Embassy on Tuesday morning, demanding to be sent home because their work at the resort is near complete and the rise in the coronavirus cases worries them, said Embassy Counsellor Haigang Yi.

Pointe workers protest at Chinese embassy, demand to return home – EyeWitness News
Chinese workers after protest at the Chinese Embassy. (Photo credit: Eye Witness News)

Speaking Mandarin, with hard hats on their heads and masks over their mouths, the orderly group of men walked in a single file to the Chinese Embassy on Shirley Street and camped on the lawn, while Yi addressed their concerns.

Who are they?

The protesters are workers at the $250 million harbor-front project, The Pointe, employed by China’s state-owned company called China State Construction Engineering Corporation, also the builder of the Baha Mar mega-resort.

Photo credit: The Pointe

The state-owned company imported hundreds of workers into the country, as 500 work permits were granted for work on the project.

The protesters represent more than 229 Chinese workers at the site, representative of China’s model of doing business for overseas construction projects. The disproportionate number of Chinese workers to Bahamian workers was in contravention of the Heads of Agreement which promised 70 percent, Bahamian workers, to 30 percent foreign labourers.

Can you Pointe out the local workers? | The Tribune
Chinese workers at The Pointe. Photo credit: Tribune

They say some of their coworkers have been in the country, working at the site for three years.

The workers usually eat their meals at the construction site and sleep nearby in temporary camps, rather than eat and live in local establishments.

They are often seen walking from the construction site to their accommodations across the street. A yellow school bus has been seen transporting workers from the site.

Why is the protest a surprise?

Chinese workers talk to Embassy Counsellor Haigang Yi. Photo credit: Eye Witness News

The public display of displeasure by the workers caught the public by surprise as it is unusual to see the Chinese partake in a public display of frustration in the Bahamas. And even though their worksite is in the center of town, they are never seen on the nearby Long Whalf Beach or walking the commercial stretch.

Secondly, the demands to go back to China because of the rising cases of COVID-19 in the Bahamas, was unusual, since the infectious disease originated in China. The Bahamas once imposed a travel ban on people coming from China because of surging cases in the Asian country.

However, over a few months, China claimed that it gained control of the virus because of its mandatory lockdowns and strong adherence to social protocols.

Now, the Bahamas has been labelled high risk for the virus as Chinese numbers seemed to have dwindled.

What are we not told?

Workers at the protest spoke in Mandarin and the interpretation was done by a representative of the Embassy. The public is not told if payment was another concern of the Chinese workers too.

This is not the first time Chinese workers have demonstrated against the China State Construction company.

Chinese workers protest in 2014 outside of Chinese Embassy after nonpayment by China Construction Company after work on Baha Mar (Photo credit: Tribune)

Back in 2014, workers gathered on the lawn of the embassy seeking six months of payment after work at Baha Mar, and seeking to be repatriated.

Workers claimed that they had sought the security of the Chinese Embassy after they were threatened when they complained.

What will happen?

The worker’s ability to quickly organize a protest among themselves resulted in the successful bargain of a flight back to their home country. Embassy Counsellor Yi said a flight would be arranged for 200 workers.

These demonstrations attest to the ability of self-organization among foreign workers, where unions are not present in the midst of situations that may seem unfair or unpleasant.


Featured picture credit: The Nassau Guardian