Filling the Void: China's Expanding Caribbean Presence

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April 06, 2018

The Peace Ark sailed smoothly into Havana Harbor, floating past the aging brick Morro Cabana fortress under a luminous yellow sun. The Ark’s 416 crew members disembarked on a warm Friday afternoon in October 2011 without much pomp, pageantry, or even a token media presence.

The white ship featured little ornamentation aside from a red hospital cross that was painted to denote its ostensible purpose: “offering medical service to local people.”

Yet, despite this humble presentation, the crew’s “Harmonious Mission” had profound geopolitical significance. This voyage represented the first naval exercise in the Caribbean by the Chinese Navy.

In the years following the arrival of the Peace Ark, China has continued to expand its engagement with the Caribbean on economic, political, and even military fronts.

Economically, China has begun to pour substantial funds into infrastructure investments, deals which often impose heavy burdens on their Caribbean recipients. On the political side, China has increasingly paid diplomatic attention to Caribbean nations, including Washington’s regional foe, Cuba. This presence also features arms sales and security cooperation.

China’s growing regional role could pose a substantive strategic threat to American security or to its economic goals. Washington should not continue to ignore this growing trend. China’s increased economic and political ties to the Caribbean represent a symbolic challenge that the U.S. should prepare to respond to with increased diplomatic and cultural outreach.

Click HERE to read more on China’s Expanding Caribbean Presence.

News date : 04/06/2018    Category : Caribbean News

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