Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Edmund Bartlett is urging the Government to address concerns by some Jamaicans that a heavy Chinese economic infusion into Jamaica could negatively affect the country’s sovereignty.
Bartlett described the prevailing suspicion of the Chinese as an age-old discussion on how international aid and investment influence the sovereignty of a nation, whether it tramples on democratic rights of its citizens or allows breathing space to an economically challenged state. “Certainly, we have come a long way in dealing with similar issues of imperialism and colonialism, cultural penetration, as well as political domination.”
With China poised to play a pivotal role in the establishment of the logistics hub and the Caymanas Economic Zone, after already driving major infrastructural development, concerns have been raised as to whether Jamaica stands to lose much of its sovereignty even if it benefits economically.
According to Bartlett, potent political will is necessary to resist what is not good for the country and to embrace what is of benefit to the people.
“One of the things that we cannot and must not do is to sacrifice self-determination for straight economic good,” he asserted. “I believe that with China’s position in the global landscape, it is unavoidable for any country that has the peculiar problems that confront Jamaica, which is in dire need of investment flows, to deal with that country,” said Bartlett.
“Not many countries that can are willing to do that sort of an investment arrangement that China is offering,” added Bartlett. “So I believe that Jamaica is going to have to chart its way with China as partner.”
Bartlett expressed cautious optimism about Jamaica’s relationship with China, although he expressed some worry that not everything will work for Jamaica in a way that its Government and people desire.