China’s Communist Party (CCP) seems to be implementing a multidimensional strategy in the Caribbean, reaping economic, political and potentially military gains a few miles offshore the United States.
China’s ultimate objective of its Caribbean strategy may well be to confront the US, not only with its presence near the mainland US, but also with a situation analogous to America’s military presence in the region of the South China Sea. There, China created new islands in the sea, pledged not to militarize them, then went and militarized them.
It is important to remember that China also promised Hong Kong autonomy until 2047, then, in 2020, jumped the gun by 27 years.
“Hong Kong will be another communist-run city under China’s strict control,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared in July. China is clearly not a government that honors its agreements.
The CCP leadership has also been launching a diplomatic effort in the Caribbean with the goal of delegitimizing the state of Taiwan, while encouraging regional countries to open relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Chinese shipments of military and police equipment to several Caribbean states could be developing into beachheads for future People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “advisory groups” in the Western Hemisphere. China’s construction projects already include the modernization of airports and seaports, which could increase Chinese geopolitical and military influence in the region. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe already is on record expressing China’s willingness to deepen military cooperation with Caribbean countries.
Additionally, China has been investing considerable revenue in the economies of the hemisphere’s anti-American Caribbean socialist states of Cuba and Venezuela. China’s establishment of a Caribbean Belt and Road Sector is an opportunity for CCP intelligence operatives to suborn the sovereignty of Caribbean countries by luring these societies into “debt trap” economic dependency on China. In Sri Lanka, for instance, the country’s inability to pay back its Chinese creditors for Beijing’s modernization of the port of Hambantota has resulted in the South Asian country’s effective loss of the port.
China’s Caribbean offensive so far includes a “medical diplomacy” initiative that is providing Latin America, but especially the region’s island states, with face masks, personal protective gowns and gloves, ventilators, ambulances, and pharmaceuticals. This May, China convened a video-link conference on the COVID-19 virus at the vice-ministerial level with the nine Caribbean countries that have diplomatic relations with Beijing: Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Dominica, Granada, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
China’s dominant role as a world leader in the production of pharmaceuticals and medical devices is, as presumably intended, enabling the Chinese to garner considerable good will in the region. China has already delivered 30,000 virus test kits to Jamaica and at least 100,000 protective masks to Cuba as well as about 100 ventilators to the Dominican Republic. China also has built hospitals in Dominica, St. Kitts, Barbados and Trinidad, as well as a children’s hospital in Jamaica. Throughout the COVID-19 virus epidemic, China has also donated medical supplies to around 15 Caribbean states.