China has been accused of ‘playing a large part’ in calls in Barbados to drop the Queen as Head of State
While Beijing has not responded, the allegation comes amid a heightening soft-power grab in the region
China has pumped billions into the Caribbean, both in direct investments and soft loan deals that has seen it acquire ports, construct roads, refurbish cricket stadiums and invest in the regions biggest casino
Barbados itself has received at least $490million and has signed up to Beijing’s Belt and Road trade initiative
By CHRIS PLEASANCE FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 16:09 BST, 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 06:34 BST, 24 September 2020
China has poured billions of dollars of investment into the Caribbean while signing tax and trade deals in an attempt to wrest the region out of the West’s sphere of influence and bring it under the sway of Beijing.
The Chinese government has invested at least $7billion in six Caribbean nations since 2005, records show – building roads, ports and the five-star Baha Mar casino and resort in the Bahamas – though the true figure is thought to run well into the tens of billions.
While some of the money arrives as part of trade and investment deals, much of it is offered as ‘soft loans’ for infrastructure projects that are harder to track and typically come with requirements to use Chinese contractors for the work. The loans also provide long-term leverage for Beijing over the cash-strapped island nations.
MailOnline investigated China’s growing influence in the region after Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the UK’s foreign affairs committee, accused Beijing of ‘playing a large role’ in Barbados’s recent calls to drop the Queen as the Head of State.
In addition to the loans and investments, eight countries in the Caribbean have signed on to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, including Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, with agreements in place to deepen trade ties along with building bridges and airports, and improving energy and telecommunications networks.
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