Barbados ceased to have the English Queen Elizabeth as their ‘Head of State’ on Nov. 29 after a ceremony in which Prince Charles symbolically removed power from his mother, the Queen, before the first president of the republic. Although decades in the making, the change comes at the same time that Barbados received millions of dollars from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as part of the ‘Belt and Road’ project.
According to Daily Mail, the move by the nation’s politicians to turn it into a republic comes more than 50 years after it became fully independent in 1966. But at the time, there was no popular support to carry it out, so it took another 55 years to materialize.
After 400 years since the British found the island and claimed it as their colony, Barbados finally said it was time to “leave its past behind” and become an independent republic.
After the ceremony on Monday, where Prince Charles, son of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, handed over power to the now first president of Barbados, former governor-general, Sandra Mason, the island ceased to recognize the Queen as head of state.
The decision comes at a time when the CCP is investing heavily in Barbados and the Caribbean islands in general, and in recent years received over $490 million in investment under the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, although the sum is exponentially higher if loans to the private sector are taken into account.
Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the British Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, claims that the decision to remove the Queen as head of state is due to the pressure the CCP is exerting on the Caribbean islands to cut off Western influence and bring them under Beijing’s wing.
“British partners have long faced challenges from rivals seeking to undermine our alliance. Today we’re seeing it in the Caribbean. Some islands seem to be close to swapping a symbolic Queen in Windsor for a real and demanding emperor in Beijing,” the MP said on Nov. 23, days before Barbados is due to relinquish the Queen.
Barbados Island’s current President, Sandra Mason, assured that the decision to become a republic does not respond to any external pressure but to the desire of the people of Barbados to have a president of their own.
But the pattern of investments and loans from the CCP is not unconditional.
In 2005, Grenada, a Spanish colony, severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and received an “incentive”—the construction of a $55 million cricket stadium—by the CCP.
For much less money, just $3 million, the Dominican Republic also stopped recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign country at the request of the CCP, according to The Sun.
In other words, via heavy investments, the CCP seeks to “deepen trade ties” but ultimately uses the “gratitude” of its “beneficiaries” to exert pressure and shape the relationship to its benefit and ambition for global domination.
In the case of Barbados, Beijing has been investing heavily in recent years. It’s poured money into projects such as building a Confucius Institute on the University of the West Indies campus in Barbados, refurbishing the national stadium in Bridgetown, upgrading the sewerage system, rebuilding roads, and building a spa at the famous Sam Lord’s Castle.
In addition, the CCP has donated a coastal patrol vessel to the Barbados navy, supplied 30,000 doses of its Sinovac vaccine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and sold 30 electric buses to the country.
From 2005 to date, the CCP has invested an estimated $7 billion in the Caribbean and among the islands that have benefited are Trinidad and Tobago which received $1.9 billion, Jamaica $2.7 billion, Bahamas $450 million, Cuba $600 million and Antigua and Barbuda $1 billion.
Will Barbados be yet another victim of the CCP’s predatory ‘Belt and Road’ project?
Recent reports highlight the consequences of the CCP’s predatory “Belt and Road” lending and infrastructure projects.
Uganda lost its only international airport which is now under control of a Chinese bank for failing to repay the loan.
In 2017, Sri Lanka lost a port because it could not fulfill the loans that analysts say have very high rates, short repayment periods, and inflated prices. Beijing uses its own companies, its own workers, and the actual cost figures are kept secret.