Despite the 90-degree temperatures, there was a chill in the air when the duke and duchess of Cambridge arrived this week in Jamaica. For it seems that Jamaica wishes to sever ties with Britain’s monarchy, and the question is whether Communist China could be behind the development.
During the royal visit on Wednesday, Prime Minister Holness informed the duke and duchess that Jamaica is “moving on” and “intends to fulfill its true ambitions as an independent country.” Yet how truly independent it might be is a question that has yet to become clear.
Last year, Barbados became the latest Caribbean nation to part ways with the crown, ending a 400-year relationship to become a republic. That was marked with a memorable column by the Sun’s “Brexit Diarist,” Stephen MacLean, that was issued under the headline: “As Barbados Becomes a Republic, Our Diarist Doffs the Phrygian Cap.”
Meantime, Communist China has plowed more than $600 million into the island economy, equal to one-tenth of its gross domestic product. Barbados joined the Belt and Road Initiative in 2019. Roads, homes, sewers, and hotels have all been constructed with the Chinese yuan. Jamaica then also joined the Belt and Road.
On its own, Jamaica is not rich in the minerals or natural resources that China seeks elsewhere. Yet it, like other Caribbean nations, is coveted by Beijing because of its proximity to America. Communist China has long been upset by America’s presence in the Pacific. Chinese leverage in the Caribbean is seen as one in the eye for Washington.
One in the eye, indeed. Steadily, the West’s global influence seems to be waning while Beijing continues to expand its reach, also in America’s backyard. With its economic might, it could even be nudging nations over the edge. Could Jamaica be one such case?