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‘Bahamas Needs Us, Not China’

Doug Manchester

Doug Manchester

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Deputy Chief Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

THE $2.1bn Chinese fishing proposal for Andros, which placed the former Progressive Liberal Party government in the line of fierce criticism, took centre stage during the United States ambassador to the Bahamas’ confirmation hearing with nominee for the post Doug Manchester saying more US investment is needed in this country.

During the United States Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, Chairman Marco Rubio, Republican Florida senator, pointed to the issue as “without doubt concerning” because of Florida’s proximity to The Bahamas.

Mr Rubio said if The Bahamas ever leased its waters to the Chinese it would negatively impact US-Bahamas relations.

He asked whether Mr Manchester had given any thought to how he would approach this situation should it arise if he is successful in securing the diplomatic post.

Mr Manchester said: “I really do believe that the presence of Homeland Security and our Coast Guard off the shore and all of what we’re doing to protect The Bahamas really needs to be continually emphasised to the Bahamian government, even though China has in fact made a significant economic contribution to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in the form of hotels (and) resorts.

“We just need to encourage more business from America to be there.”

He also said: “I already had talks with people in regards to the University of The Bahama(s) and I think there is no reason why we can’t have a medical school there.

“I believe with a medical school down there we could in fact encourage some medical instrumentation to be manufactured there and to do everything we possibly can to allow for America’s interests to be appreciated and as a result of being appreciated, certainly protecting our rights with regards to fishing and other security issues.”

Last November, the PLP was heavily criticised after reports the former Christie administration gave the green light to its embassy in Beijing to pursue talks of a fishing and agriculture partnership with China.

In response, then Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries V Alfred Gray at the time said there was no way, under any circumstance, that the government would give foreigners, no matter who they are, a licence to fish in The Bahamas. However he also admitted to giving The Bahamas ambassador to China permission to have the discussions.

The controversial proposal reportedly projected a $2.1bn injection into the local economy over ten years through an equal partnership between The Bahamas and the People’s Republic of China.

According to earlier reports, the proposed partnership further entailed the incorporation of 100 companies, with the agricultural products and seafood to be used for local consumption, and exported to China and the United States for sale. The proposal also reportedly included the option to lease 10,000 acres of Crown land in Andros.

During the height of the controversy, Mr Gray said he “never spoke with any Chinese” and simply gave the Bahamian Ambassador to China Paul “Andy” Gomez permission to discuss “investments”.

Despite the denials from the government, the report prompted Free National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis, who was then in opposition, to criticise then Prime Minister Perry Christie for his “deafening” silence on the matter.

It was not the first time he raised concern on this issue. Last July, while speaking at a rally at Christie Park, Dr Minnis said the government was negotiating with the Chinese for 10,500 acres of land in Andros.

Dr Minnis also alleged the proposal was part of the “secret deal” Mr Christie negotiated with the Chinese to remobilise the Baha Mar resort.

In November 2016, Mr Christie criticised Dr Minnis for “emotionally exploiting” Bahamians’ anxiety over Chinese investment.

In Parliament, Mr Christie revealed that the previous FNM administration held talks with the People’s Republic of China and private Chinese companies through the Bahamas State Investment Administration Bureau for projects and co-operatives, which included Crown land acquisition.

However, he stopped short of tabling the documents to support this, and instead invited Dr Minnis to review the files so that he could be informed without “having to make it into some ridicule of a nation”.

As for the $2.1bn Chinese proposal, Mr Christie also said last November that if such a proposal had ever come before his Cabinet, it would have been “rejected outright”.

Comments

sheeprunner12 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Rubio is a Cuban American with a horse in the race ............. We need an influential well-connected US Ambassador who can come in and put the Chinese in their place ........ We can forgive this man for his "slip of tongue" and support him if he has good intentions to bring in some American FDI for all of the Bahamian islands

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tell_it_like_it_is 11 months, 2 weeks ago

While I am TOTALLY against allowing the Chinese or any other country coming in to "rape" our beautiful Bahamian waters, I certainly don't trust the US (especially anyone associated with the Trump administration). Trump has proven time and time again that no one else really matters to him with his 'Make America Great Again' rhetoric (well, except his bromance with Russia, but that's another story).

IMHO Dr. Minnis should be shrewdly cautious when dealing with the US and ensure that The Bahamas' best interests always comes first. We really do have a lot to offer, especially with our abundantly rich marine resources - so be sure not to bend over to American demands. Be sure it's worth our while- whatever they offer!

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TheMadHatter 11 months, 2 weeks ago

tell-it-like-it-is : Your comment is incredibly amusing to me - and is just another unbelievable comment from someone who (apparently) does not realize how much this country truly sucks. Perhaps your car has special shock absorbers and you just never feel the pot holes as you drive along.

How many pot holes have your run into in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, WPB, Tampa? I'm sure there are a few - but I personally have never seen even one in over 30 years of travel there.

We can't fix pot holes. Our kids can do long division upon leaving school (they know how to multiply though using the belly-swell method).

We should all be on our knees begging the USA to make us the 51st state. We practically are anyway. Almost everything we consume comes in thru Arawak Cay from Florida (almost). What Independence do we have except to lock up our brothers in prison and give them an introduction to what the trip was like across the ocean in the bowels of the slave ships?

Bahamians all around town asking shop clerks "Man you got any US you can change me?" Really? What's wrong with those Bahamians dollars you have in your hand?

Start the proposal. Ask them to take us into the fold, and we shall become the 51st state in the union before end of year. Stop fooling youself.

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TheMadHatter 11 months, 2 weeks ago

LOL. Yes, people can get used to anything, and learn to love it. Besides there are a lot of people and places around now that specialize in CV-Joint repair for the front wheel suspension - and we wouldn't want to put them out of business. Wonder why all those express shipping places are scattered all over Nassau - with people importing stuff all the time. Can't we find everything we need right at Potter's Cay? Anyway, we can just agree to disagree. Best wishes my brother.

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NewPatriot 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The only trouble that I have with this entire government is that, if the PRC can pitch a plan to produce so much fishing revenue and fisheries products manufacturing on such a massive scale, why haven't why monetized this ourselves? Yes, the country is broke.... but this isn't a logistical nightmare to outlay a manufacturing plant to be built in phases as production swells.

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milesair 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The disaster that the U.S. is becoming should be something the Bahamas does NOT want to be a part of!

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SP 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Anyone that cannot "comprehend & see" whats clearly happening here right now in live time before your eyes with this mans appointment as ambassador to the Bahamas must be delusional Pillage Loot Plunder supports.

Nuff said!

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