St Vincent and the Grenadines’ opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) is strangely quiet on China’s military exercises around Taiwan with a looming threat of invasion – a silence unlike when Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
At a time when countries around the world are responding to China’s show of military might, the political party in opposition that once enjoyed fruitful relations with the 23 million-strong democratic Taiwan nation during governance has proposed a shift to a militarily aggressive China for what it says is a great opportunity to increase economic benefits, is yet to make an official statement on China’s aggression.
St Vincent and the Grenadines has benefitted, and continue to benefit immensely from its diplomatic relations with Taiwan to the extent that the 23 million nation is sometimes referred to as a “cash cow.” Certainly, there is no other country identified as having done more, single-handedly, for this independent 110,000 Eastern Caribbean nation than Taiwan has, especially in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, health and education – a vitally important investment that has helped put St Vincent and the Grenadines on a sounder, firmer footing to respond better to the needs of the people, to respond better to the challenges, economic and otherwise, as a consequence of exogenous shocks and to help the government in its thrust to build a more civilized society.
Even as tension deepens with China’s show of military aggression around Taiwan, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves – the leader of the smallest country to ever sit as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2020-2022) – is on his way for a state visit to Taiwan in a move to strengthen relations with the nation under threat of military aggression.
There are Vincentians currently studying in Taiwan. There are Vincentians living in Taiwan. The call and concern for their safety has not yet been heard from the opposition NDP, unlike the speedy call earlier this year for several students studying in Russia to be brought home before they are trapped by sanctions imposed on that communist country.
But, not only is the NDP silent on China’s possible military strike; there is also a deafening silence on whether it is maintaining its promise to shift to China should the party be returned to office in the next general elections.
It is understood that the NDP’s interest in SVG-China diplomatic relations has weaned. But, the party has not yet come back to the people to update them on the proposed foreign policy shift expressed in 2016.
Ernesto is a senior journalist with the St. Vincent Times. Having worked in the media for 16 years, he focuses on local and international issues. He has written for the New York Times and reported for the BBC during the La Soufriere eruptions of 2021.