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Ambassador Wei: China is not targeting MBIA

Wei Hongtian – the current Chinese Ambassador to Grenada

It will not happen.

This statement was made by resident Chinese Ambassador to Grenada Wei Hongtian in response to concerns expressed that the government in Beijing will seek to take control of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) if the island defaults on a multi-million dollar loan to rehabilitate the facility.

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY, the resident Chinese diplomat said that this assertion is just “not true” and can be considered as “fake news” being promoted mainly by the foreign media who are against China.

“I assure you that’s not true. China will never take over anything here in Grenada,” he said.

Ambassador Wei stated that China is interested in providing assistance to “friendly countries” in the Caribbean, Middle East, Africa and elsewhere in accordance “with their needs” and is not engaged in hegemony and power politics.

He said the co-operation assistance given by China to these countries is based on “mutual respect” and “mutual benefits” to all parties concerned.

“The Chinese government never imposes its ideas, system nor places conditions on recipient countries,” he added.

MBIA was the showpiece project of the 1979-83 ill-fated People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of slain Marxist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.

It was started with massive assistance from Cuba and completed with the help of the United States after the collapse of the Grenada Revolution when Bishop was killed in a palace coup staged by hardliners in the then ruling New Jewel Movement (NJM) who were associated with a cell group known as OREL.

Seventeen former government and military officials including Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, former Mobilisation Minister Selwyn Strachan, and ex-Ambassador to Cuba Major Leon “Bogo” Cornwall were convicted in a high court trial for the murder of Bishop and three Cabinet Ministers – Unison Whiteman (Foreign Affairs), Jacqueline Creft (Education) and Norris Bain (Housing).

According to Ambassador Wei, the co-operation agreement that China often signs with other friendly countries is always aimed at meeting the needs of the receiving countries and their people and sectors like the airport.

He said that China has implemented several projects in all parts of the world with “friendly countries” and denied reports in the Western Media that Beijing will seek to take control of them in times of payment default.

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“No, nothing (like that) happened. We will not take over anything,” he quipped.

The Chinese envoy pointed out that some of the countries that Bejing has established diplomatic relations with are in need of assistance with their infrastructure development and China will provide help through grants and concessional loans.

These governments, he said, need this kind of assistance from China for development with roads, airports, bridges, and houses.

The Chinese ambassador disclosed that the normal period for repayment of these loans from China are 20 years with a grace period of 5 years.

He is confident that the Grenada government can repay this concessional loan from China which covers 25 years in total.

“We believe that the Grenadian government can repay this. If a friendly government encounters difficulties and they cannot repay this loan, we can renegotiate,” he said.

Ambassador Wei noted that if a country cannot repay a loan from China it is definitely not the policy of Beijing China to take over an asset like the airport, roads, and railway in return.

“No, it will never happen. It is not our policy, not our philosophy –we are very serious, very sincere to enhance our co-operation with our friends,” he remarked.

The Chinese envoy was also asked to comment on reports that in some cases of default on repayment of loans that China will send in their own people to take over the running of these entities.

“Don’t worry about that – this will not happen, China will not impose anything on you. We will not take over anything here,” he said.

Ambassador Wei stressed that the government in Beijing is all for “friendly co-operation” and also “friendly relations for “the good and benefit of the two nations that re-established diplomatic ties in 2005.

“We are a true friend of Grenada,” he said.

The MBIA expansion loan project, estimated at over EC$135 million is nearing completion and included the building of a parallel taxiway, loading bridges, a bypass road, passenger terminals, as well as a second apron for cargo and an emergency center.

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