NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said yesterday that among the issues to be discussed at the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting this week will be advancing and strengthening China-CARICOM relations.
Davis, accompanied by a delegation, traveled over the weekend to attend the 33rd Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
There will be discussions about this and to balance the interest of Americans and others who may have concerns about their presence in the region.
– Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis
Among several of the issues expected to be discussed during the week will be whether regional leaders can come up with a policy regarding their relationship with China.
“The idea and view of the CARICOM leaders [is] that we should strengthen it,” Davis said in a video address about the meeting.
“So there will be discussions about that and to balance the interest of Americans and others who may have concerns about their presence in the region.”
The issue comes amid lingering concerns over China’s geopolitical strategy and its attempts to increase economic and political influence in the Caribbean and around the world.
In November, Foreign Secretary Fred Mitchell assured that the Bahamas was not in the middle of a geopolitical banter between the United States and China.
Last year, US General Glen VanHerck accused China of pursuing an aggressive geopolitical strategy aimed at undermining US influence around the world and shaping the international environment to its advantage.
VanHerck specifically mentioned China’s relationship with Mexico and the Bahamas, which he called “an important partner.”
The Chinese Embassy, however, hit back at the comments and chastised the United States for not treating the Caribbean as “a backyard that no one else should get involved in.”
The Chinese Embassy in the Bahamas has maintained that its relations in the Caribbean, including with the Bahamas, are not an attempt to undermine the United States or any other major world power.
Davis said he also intended to raise the issue of climate change at the meetings, noting that the topic should remain at the forefront of discussions.
He said the issue of how to reduce and monetize the region’s carbon credits should be discussed and a policy should be developed among Caribbean countries, given that the region has the largest carbon sink in the world.
Additionally, Davis said the agenda will include discussions of the region’s tourism policy. – the Bahamas being the tourism sector chair for the Caribbean – as well as an agricultural policy specifically focused on the poultry industry.
He said he would formally introduce himself as Prime Minister to CARICOM leaders and share the initiatives his administration has planned for the Bahamas.
Davis traveled with Mitchell, Grand Bahama Minister Ginger Moxey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism John Pinder II and CARICOM High Commissioner Leslia Miller-Brice.
The Prime Minister sought to assure Bahamians that “no country is an island” and that meetings like this are important in building strong diplomatic relations.
“We are very vulnerable as a region, and so the more we are together, the stronger we are,” he said.
“That’s key for us as a unit – harnessing our collective energies, our ideas [and] thoughts.”