If the USA wasn’t such a powerful and sometimes dangerous country, we could have been amused about one aspect of the visit in late October of Ms. Julie Chung, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of their State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Media reports have suggested that the lady visited with the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, and the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. John Briceño, and made known that the US feels that Belize shouldn’t dare spurn Taiwan for the embrace of the PRC (People’s Republic of China).
In 1979 the Americans turned their backs on Taiwan; there was nothing moral about their decision to switch to the PRC. Their decision was based solely on getting their share, the lion’s share of a vast emerging market. They expressed love for Taiwan, but business and power came first.
When the US cemented the link with the PRC, a Joint Communique was issued which stated that they “recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.” The Communique stated that the US would maintain “cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan”, but that the “United States does not support Taiwan independence.” (Quotes from the website www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-taiwan)
The switch to the PRC was a great business decision for the US, and a win-win for both countries. In the 40 or so years since that Communique, the US has gotten richer and the PRC has become the second largest economy in the world.
In 1978, paramount leader of the PRC, Deng Xiaoping, started to reform their economy and they have never looked back. The new PRC opened its economy, made five-year plans that included strategic investments in targeted industries, and with their large (more than 700 million), cheap (compared to Europe and the USA) and educated labor force, they have become the dominant manufacturers in the world. Chinese who have moved into the USA have not only acquired new technology to augment research at home, they also remit billions of dollars, $64 billion in 2017, according to the World Bank.
US businesses are doing extremely well in their relationship with the PRC. US farmers, car makers, even their sports industries, are making huge profits. Some experts estimate that the US’s National Basketball Association (NBA) earns over US$500 million doing business in the PRC each year.
The PRC has been using its vast resources to steal friends from Taiwan. In the competition with such a rich and powerful foe, Taiwan has been losing badly. In Central America only four diplomatic allies remain with Taiwan, namely, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Costa Rica bolted from their alliance with Taiwan in 2007. Panama followed the Silk Road to the PRC in 2017, and El Salvador did so in 2018.
Ms. Chung, as per a release from the US Embassy, was here to acknowledge the “solid economic ties” between Belize and the USA, congratulate us and Taiwan as we celebrated 30 years of excellent diplomatic relationship, and express appreciation for our “continuing relationship” with Taiwan.
The US Embassy release did not mention another purpose for Ms. Chung’s visit. In a sit-down with the media she called out Cuba and its communist system, and said that Cuba is contributing to the problem in Venezuela. “We urge every country to do what they can to push back against the Maduro regime; this is one of our top priorities,” Ms. Chung told the media.
In late July or early August this year, the Hon. Kareem Musa and a few other members of the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) visited the PRC, ostensibly to study systems that country had developed to uplift the poor from poverty.
We can’t see the PUP thinking about turning its back on Taiwan. It was the PUP that cemented our relationship with that country, after the United Democratic Party (UDP) had been increasing our ties to the PRC. The PUP and its then leader, Rt. Hon. George Price, have to be congratulated for seeing the obvious flaw in Belize’s supporting the vastly bigger PRC that was, and is, trying to gobble up its much smaller neighbor.
The PUP explained, about their recent visit to the PRC, that they were about tweaking Taiwan’s tail because the Taiwanese were giving loans and making donations to the people of Belize without calling for any accounting of how the funds were spent by the Barrow UDP government. The PUP charged that the UDP government was siphoning off funds from Taiwanese largesse to bolster their party’s coffers for the next general election. We don’t know whether Taiwan felt the tug on its tail, but our reports are that a US$50 million loan for the upgrade of the road to Sarteneja that was signed subsequent to the PUP visit to the PRC, will be supervised by a company set up by the Taiwanese.
Considering the natural alliance, and all that the relationship with Taiwan has brought us, there is not much chance of us turning our backs on them now. At the least that would make for bad karma. Belize is no enemy of the PRC, and we don’t see any Belize government rejecting investments from them if they don’t call for us to cut our support for the rights of Taiwan to self-determination. We didn’t need to be goaded.
Senator doesn’t have the time
Hon. Said Musa, when he was Prime Minister, famously, or infamously, said that sometimes a “leader haffu lie.” We, the Belizean people, will have to decide what is worse – for a leader to do us wrong and say he doesn’t care what we think, or for a leader to do us wrong and try to cover up his sin. Senator Aldo Salazar is the former. When the leaders of the NTUCB inquired about the final report from the Senate Special Select Committee on Immigration, which we’ve been awaiting for almost two years, the senator said, effectively, that we will have to wait because he has more important matters on his plate.
This is what happens when your party is in power too long. It’s no surprise that we haven’t heard one leader of the UDP chastise the senator for speaking so brazenly to the NTUCB.