Mon | Feb 24, 2020

China fires back at US - Embassy calls Trump troublemaker starting fires and fanning flames

Published:Thursday | January 23, 2020 | 12:24 AM
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) shakes hands with Prime Minister Andrew Holness at  a joint press conference  at Jamaica House on Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) shakes hands with Prime Minister Andrew Holness at a joint press conference at Jamaica House on Wednesday.

Paul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Jamaica and regional governments were warned by United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday to view with suspicion Chinese investments, hinting that the cash-rich benefactor’s influence threatened national security in Latin America and the Caribbean.

But the Chinese Embassy in Kingston fired back late yesterday, characterising the Donald Trump administration as a trouble-seeking cowboy picking fights with trading partners.

Its message was telegraphed to sting Washington’s top diplomat in a parting shot as he left the island yesterday.

“For some time, it seems that some US politicians cannot go anywhere without attacking China, tarnishing China’s reputation, starting fires and fanning the flames and sowing discord,” the embassy’s missive read.

“They can go on talking the talk if they so wish, but we will continue walking the walk. The world will tell plainly who is stirring up trouble and who is trying to make a difference.”

Pompeo earlier reaffirmed America’s scepticism, hostility even, to China, echoing previous warnings issued last November by United States Ambassador Donald Tapia that the Asian nation was “a dragon with two heads”. Admiral Craig S. Fuller, a senior US military commander, had also urged the region to be wary of China’s campaign of “disinformation”.

The secretary of state urged regional countries to thoroughly examine investments from all countries, highlighting the Chinese in his response to a question raised by the host of a policy discussion on US-Caribbean relations held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, former American Chamber of Commerce Jamaica President Allison Peart.

“But here is what America is doing. We are making sure that when Chinese companies come to invest in America, that they are doing what President Trump said, which is that they are gonna be fair, and that it’s going to be reciprocal,” Pompeo said.

Journalist were not allowed to ask questions.

Pompeo charged that the Chinese Communist Party presented a grave threat to democratic values, insisting that Jamaica and its regional neighbours should “just make sure the transactions are on the up and up and that the investment is made for economic purposes”.

“We love the Chinese people. The US has enormous investments from China in our country and we have American companies that have invested in China, too,” Pompeo said.

Last week, Trump and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He inked a deal in the White House that cut some US tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for pledges from Beijing to purchase more manufactured goods and tap into energy contracts. The agreement, dubbed the US-China Phase One Deal, is the latest crest of a wave of trade tumult between China and the US over the last two years, which has been marked by a volley of tariff threats.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in Kingston yesterday expressed strong opposition to the “groundless accusation against China’s cooperation with Latin America and Caribbean countries, which Mr Michael Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has made”.

The embassy said that China has brokered cooperation pacts with Latin America and the Caribbean on the basis of respect, equality, and mutual benefit.

Further, it stated that China’s billion-dollar infrastructure and other investments had been welcomed by the region.

“Latin America and the Caribbean countries, as independent sovereign countries, have the right to determine their own foreign relations, including choosing their trade and investment partners. Others are in no position to impose interference or coercion out of ulterior motives,” the Chinese said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com