As the headline above says, ‘all is not well’ in the current relations between the powerful UN Security member, China and Grenada which is one of the smallest island nation State in the world.
The unease in the relationship came out in the open on Sunday night when the Chinese ambassador stationed in St. George’s, Ambassador Ou Boqian choose to walk out on Senator Winston Garraway, the Parliamentary Secretary for Information in the Office of the Prime Minister.
The ambassador was taking offense to Sen. Garraway’s reference to the Republic of China on Taiwan and its settlement of a multi-million dollar loan debt payment with Grenada.
Two days later, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell was sending a message to whoever choose to listen that Grenada’s right as an independent country must be respected as it was a sovereign state and had a right to make reference to anyone who helped the island.
It was indeed strong words from our Prime Minister and the Chinese would no doubt take careful note.
The fact of the matter is that tiny Grenada with its broken and debt-burden economy is not on par and on equal status with China which in the not too distant future might overcome the United States as the most powerful country in the world in terms of economic development and growth.
Taiwan is again at the centre of the current diplomatic impasse. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and not an independent nation state.
Several small countries around the world including Grenada had established diplomatic ties with Taiwan over the years as they fell for the money diplomacy game being played by the Taiwanese.
Some of these countries including Grenada often angered China when they used the platform of the U.N General Assembly to call for Taiwan to be granted membership of the body as an independent country.
It appears to THE NEW TODAY that Ambassador Ou might have been angered at first by the comment made a few days earlier by Prime Minister Mitchell when he broke news of the new loan repayment deal worked out between Grenada and Taiwan’s stated owned Export Import Bank (EXIM).
Dr. Mitchell had uttered the following words in an official release: “We are very pleased that our relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) have now been normalised through the conclusion of this important Agreement with EXIM.
His reference to Republic of China in naming Taiwan might have been offensive to the Chinese Ambassador. Secondly, the talk of the relations with Taiwan being now “normalised” will not go down well with Beijing.
The 2003-08 Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government had decided to dump Taiwan in favour of the “One-China” policy being articulated by the Chinese on the Mainland and as such there can be no talk by Grenada of normalising ties with the so-called renegade province.
There should not have been any impasse between St. George’s and Beijing on Taiwan if the then Mitchell government had insisted and refused to sign back then that deal with the Chinese on the Mainland once they did not agree to absorb the multi-million dollar loan from Taiwan.
The agreement was signed too quickly and hastily by the former NNP government which should have demonstrated greater patience in an effort to try and bring around China to pay-off the millions owed to Taiwan.
It was Richardson Andrew, the former Special Advisor to PM Mitchell, who was spearheading these behind the scene negotiations to broker the deal with Beijing for St. George’s to dump Taiwan.
Several documents had surfaced in St. George’s on these negotiations and they pointed to Richardson raising with the Chinese envoys the EXIM debt and for millions to be given by Beijing in direct financial assistance to the beleaguered Grenadian economy.
THE NEW TODAY suspects that the current leaders in Grenada cannot “twist” the arms of Beijing in the same way that they used to deal with Taiwan prior to severing ties in 2005.
Former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Brian Francis made reference to the frequency of the threats made by Dr. Mitchell to the Taiwanese to send them packing and to recognise Mainland China if they did not provide more money to his cash-strapped island.
According to Dr. Francis, in the following day or two, a few millions from Taiwan would hit the bank account of the Treasury as the Taiwanese sought to save face and to remain in Grenada to score political points on China.
Can the current NNP government leadership try the same with China? This is rather doubtful.
As it currently stands now, Grenada and not China stands to be the bigger loser in any diplomatic stalemate or stand-off between the two countries.
The Mitchell government cannot now dump Beijing and go back to the Taiwanese in light of Taiwan/China talks on future relations between the two sides.
If PM Mitchell feels that China should be giving more financial assistance to Grenada in light of the current state of the island’s economy then he should make that absolutely clear to the Chinese.
However, Beijing will not take too kindly to anyone embarrassing it diplomatically in the public.
The backlash from the Chinese might not be immediately seen but felt over a period of time and it can prove too hot for Grenada to handle.