BELMOPAN, Fri. Aug. 16, 2019– Before proceeding with the day’s agenda at today’s House of Representatives meeting, Prime Minister Dean Barrow made a Minister’s Statement in which the primary focus was a trip to mainland China by a delegation that was led by the Opposition People’s United Party’s Kareem Musa, the Caribbean Shores area representative, who was accompanied by Belize City Deputy Mayor Oscar Arnold, City Councilor Michael Noralez and attorney Kevin Arthurs.
Musa’s trip became even more controversial after the Belize Chinese Association denied any involvement in the trip.
Before introducing his motion for a US $50 million loan from Taiwan, Prime Minister Barrow castigated the Opposition for what he termed their irresponsible diplomatic initiative and was critical of his Opposition parliamentary colleague, Hon. Musa, describing him as “a neophyte” when it came to diplomacy.
Barrow went on to recite the praises of Belize’s thirty-year diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, which has benefitted Belize to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars since that diplomatic opening began during a People’s United Party government.
“…he (Musa) clearly was the leader of the delegation … they must be aware of the tremendous increase in tension between the United States and China, and I don’t think it is any secret.
“I am sure what the Americans have come to tell me, they have also gone to tell the Leader of the Opposition, and that is this, that they are not going to look kindly, after what happened with Panama and the Dominican Republic, on China poaching on any small country that is located in what the Americans, when it pleases them, call their backyard,” Barrow said.
In addressing the matter of his trip to mainland China, Hon. Musa, speaking on the adjournment insisted that it was a personal trip and that the trip was in fact organized by Johnston Ou, the president of the Belize Chinese Association.
Hon. Musa told the House, “I was invited to visit Beijing and Shanghai, by none other than the president of the Belize Chinese Association. His name is Johnston Ou.
“I went there on a friendly trip to learn, and there is nothing wrong with that. I visited many facilities, agricultural facilities, technological facilities,” said Hon. Musa.
The PM said he spoke to members of the PUP off the record, and that Musa’s trip was not unauthorized.
PUP National Deputy Leader, Hon. Cordel Hyde, fired back at the government side, saying, “Unu mek wahn big fuss when di man went on an unofficial, educational trip to mainland China, as if somehow, that indicated a shift in our policy.”