That EC$185 million loan from China to upgrade the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) has strengthened and secured for the communist rulers in Beijing a strong footing in an area that was once considered the backyard of the United States.
THE NEW TODAY is convinced that the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has locked the island to the Chinese for many years to come with this long-term loan.
There is already in existence party-to-party ties between the NNP and the Communist Party of China of President Xi Jinping.
And it is no secret that the Chinese prefer to do business with the NNP of PM Mitchell as opposed to the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which at one stage was courting Beijing when the NNP was “in bed” with the Republic of China on Taiwan.
The Chinese will always remember that it was NNP as the government and not NDC that took the bold decision to break off ties with Taiwan and give a firm commitment to the One-China doctrine.
It will be difficult for any rival party in Grenada to court Taiwan again with a heavy EC$185 million loan hanging over the island’s head to be repaid.
The ROC took the Mitchell government to court in the United States and forced it to give a commitment to repay all loans that were extended by Taipei to St. George’s during the good times.
This newspaper suspects that China will adopt a similar position if any of the opposition parties decided to look towards Taiwan to finance their campaign in an effort to unseat NNP from office.
The word out of St. Vincent is that the island’s recent general election saw an influx of funds from the two Chinese sides to give to rival camps – Taiwan with its support to the Unity Labour Party (ULP) of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
The ULP had accused its main rival – The New Democratic Party (NDP) of collecting funds from sources within Mainland China and from those who are heavily involved in the selling of passports under the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme.
The long-standing Prime Minister Gonsalves was able to strengthen his hold on the seat of power in St. Vincent despite the spending of huge sums of money by the opposition that allegedly came from foreign sources with nested interest in the outcome.
The incoming Joe Biden administration in the United States will also be casting a keen eye on China’s growing influence in the Eastern Caribbean and in particular its airport loan to Grenada.
It is quite obvious that China is making heavy inroads into this hemisphere in which the United States was once the only superpower at work.
Washington had provided the bulk of the finance needed to complete MBIA which was started by the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Marxist Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop with substantial Cuban assistance.
The incoming Biden administration would pay particular attention to this development as Grenada might now be the only island in the Caribbean in which the Chinese might now have a vested strategic interest.
A shrewd opposition would see it in their best interest to court the incoming rulers in Washington in order to get a feeling on its position with respect to China’s seemingly growing influence in the Caribbean and to see what role they can play in any future plans of the United States to curb, stem and control the influence of its main superpower rival.
The airport at Point Salines could be very strategic for the Chinese since it can provide them with an alternative route from flying from Beijing into the U.S enroute to Latin America in their quest to strengthen diplomatic and trade ties.
THE NEW TODAY is predicting that any default by Grenada on this massive loan from China could have consequences for the island.
This is even so as the true nature of the loan and the details of the agreement have not been made public by the Mitchell-led administration for anyone to analyse and to conclude on its implications for islanders.
Time will tell whether this loan is in the best interest of Grenada’s overall development or in the interest of PM Mitchell and NNP in their quest for another 5-year term in office through campaigning for general elections.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to make some passing comments on the announcement Wednesday from the Ministry of Health about the first two positive Covid-19 cases on the sister isle of Carriacou.
This is cause for serious concern as the residents on the small island have been among the biggest offenders of state-announced guidelines with respect to the wearing of masks and social distancing as precautionary measures against the virus.
It is a known fact that the people on the sister isle have not been adhering to the regulations as announced and implemented on the mainland to deal with Covid-19.
A returning national from Carriacou made the following comment to us after the public announcement of the two cases: “Just came from Carriacou and the people were not wearing masks. They are a little careless up there….so hope they were not mixing prior to being detected.”
THE NEW TODAY is very mindful of the fact that the system put in place by Grenada to deal with the virus is riddled with flaws including loopholes that result in several persons violating quarantine and non-functioning monitoring watches.
No one is sure if the Ministry of Health has trained contact tracers on the sister isle to deal with any upsurge of Covid-19 cases.
It should also be noted that the two cases in Carriacou did not come from neighbouring St. Vincent & The Grenadines but Martinique especially in light of the public trading of words between Prime Ministers Mitchell and Gonsalves on closing borders at the onset of the virus in March.