Sep 19, 2020 News
By Kemol King
US State Secretary, Michael Pompeo yesterday said that China’s investments come with strings, but that the US brings Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that is clean, drawing the ire of the Chinese Embassy in Guyana, which urged Pompeo not to spread fakes news.
Making his case under State House’s Baridi Benab, the Secretary rejected any assertion that US investments are a threat to Guyana’s sovereignty.
“The United States model is to build out on the best things of your country,” He said. “We’ll show up, we’ll bring capital, we’ll bring resources, we’ll often bring technological capabilities that are much needed to develop resources, develop infrastructure for your country, but we don’t do so with political strings tied to them. We don’t operate the way other regimes do, who might show up with money and then demand political retribution, or worse yet, engage in activity that is corrupt.”
In a separate interview with Leeron Brumell of the National Communications Network (NCN), Pompeo said he talks to American private sector leaders all the time about how they can invest in overseas markets in a manner that is fair and transparent, so they can in turn build their business in the United States. The Secretary posited that he thinks countries understand that America doesn’t ask for much, besides a fair shot at the competition, rule of law, enforceable contracts and a set of property rights.
He opted not to comment on Guyana’s deal for operations in the Stabroek Block, as one journalist had asked whether the deal could be considered fair. Pompeo said the negotiations are between Guyana and Exxon, and that he and the President didn’t even discuss ExxonMobil.
“We don’t apply political pressure connected to our commercial enterprises. There are other nations that operate very differently.”
He pointed to China, in this regard.
“China operates very differently. The Chinese Communist Party shows up with its military and commercial deeply intertwined.”
He noted that China expects countries to accept Chinese tenders for projects, and opined that it’s a form of pressure on governments. The US, on the other hand, hires local skill, Pompeo said, adding that American companies are great environmental stewards.
The two economic powerhouses appear locked in a battle over who should extend more aid and influence in the Caribbean region. While the US and Guyana signed bilateral agreements signaling heavy US investments into Guyana’s energy and related sectors, the People’s Republic of China already received Guyana’s signature in 2018 on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for participation in the controversial Belt & Road Initiative.
In a statement just hours after Pompeo made his remarks, the Chinese Embassy condemChned him, urging that he make no further utterances which could tarnish his image. The Embassy said that China develops relations with Caribbean countries like Guyana under principles of mutual respect, equality and mutually beneficial cooperation.
“China attaches no political strings in bilateral pragmatic cooperations,” it stated, “which bring tangible benefits to countries and peoples in the region. This is an objective fact that anyone without prejudice will admit.”
As for the US, China said the country has abused the concept of national security to oppress foreign companies, alluding to recent action by the US to suppress the Tik Tok smartphone application, which it worries is Chinese spyware.
“The US has not only violated market principles and international rules,” China said, “but also negated the principles of market economy and fair competition that it has been priding itself on. We hope that all countries work together to promote a fair, just, open, non-discriminatory business environment.”
A Reuters report notes that a similar exchange was made between Pompeo and China during his earlier visit to Suriname.
“We’ve watched the Chinese Communist Party invest in countries, and it all seems great at the front end and then it all comes falling down when the political costs connected to that becomes clear,” Pompeo is quoted as saying.
The Chinese Embassy there responded swiftly, saying that Pompeo is attempting to sow discord between China and Guyana’s immediate neighbour to the East. It urged Pompeo to stop spreading rumours about China.
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