Speaking on Capitol Hill, the home of the United States Congress in Washington, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders, declared that “China offers Caribbean countries a lifeline for development in the absence of others”.
Ambassador Sanders told an audience representing the US Congress, the US Government, diplomats and businesspeople from the Caribbean and the US that “we would be ducking an important issue if we did not note the expressed unhappiness in some quarters by the presence of the Peoples Republic of China as a partner in the economic development of the Caribbean”.
But, the Antigua and Barbuda diplomat stressed that: “Without China’s investment over the last decade, the Caribbean region – as in Latin America – would have stagnated, if not reversed”. Sanders explained that “typically, Chinese government loans are for 20 years at 2 per cent interest, and because of them, Caribbean countries have been able build infrastructure, such as seaports, airports, low cost housing, roads and schools”. “No other government, nor commercial or development bank offers such beneficial terms”, Ambassador Sanders said.
Dealing directly with concerns that have been expressed by US government representatives about China’s involvement in the Caribbean, Sir Ronald explained that “Caribbean countries have welcomed Chinese investment, including loans from the Government of China, not because they wish to displace traditional friends or to diminish their valued relations, but because China offers a lifeline for development in the absence of others”.
He continued by saying that: “Today, the majority of CARICOM countries are stable democracies. but these conditions are only sustainable in conditions of sustained development”.
Ambassador Sanders was the lead speaker at the opening the Caribbean Legislative Week on Capitol Hill on June 5, kicking-off Caribbean Heritage Month in the US which attempts to focus attention on the region.
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