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China’s Caribbean presence among issues discussed at Ja, US bilateral talks

Published:Monday | December 7, 2020 | 5:24 PM
John McIntyre, chargé d'affaires at the United States Embassy in Kingston - Contributed photo.

United States authorities have admitted that China’s role in the Caribbean region was a talking point during discussions on a range of bilateral and other issues of national interest between the US and its regional partners.

John McIntyre, chargé d'affaires at the United States Embassy in Kingston, indicated that the role of China in the region formed part of the December 3, “Jamaica Strategic Dialogue” between US and Jamaican officials.

Quizzed about US security concerns about Chinese technology giant’s Huawei 5G technology, McIntyre said the US would not dictate to any sovereign country what decisions should be made in terms of its acquisition.

“Every country is a sovereign nation and is expected to make its own decision but I think we wanted to make it very clear the dangers China poses in this area which is the future of telecoms,” McIntyre told journalists at a press briefing earlier today.

The press briefing came on the heels of the Jamaica Strategic Dialogue which was led by US Under Secretary for Political Affairs, David Hale, and Jamaica’s Kamina Johnson Smith, foreign affairs and foreign trade minister.

Nan Fife, the US State Department's director of Caribbean Affairs, said the inaugural virtual meeting between Washington and Kingston provided a platform to discuss how “we can build upon the existing strong bilateral economic, health disaster resilience and security cooperation.”

She said it is intended to have this dialogue annually to facilitate ongoing collaboration on the important priorities of both countries.

The US government, including President Donald Trump, has openly discussed its concerns about Chinese 5G technology, citing national security risks as its main talking points.

United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Donald Tapia, has also spoken of his unease with the technology and has even warned the Jamaican Government of “hidden” Chinese intent in the affairs of the country.

In recent controversial tweets, Tapia claimed that Huawei "has a history of spying and supporting authoritarian regimes."

It has rejected the assertions.

The Jamaican Government has been mulling the introduction of 5G mobile technology, with emphasis on the Spectrum Management Authority's recently tabled annual report for 2019/2020, which stated its objectives to prepare Jamaica for 5G services.

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