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Former Cuban Ambassador Bruce Goodwin has said that [in his view]. Antigua and Barbuda don’t have to open an embassy in the People’s Republic of China.
The embassy was recently opened by Prime Minister Gaston Browne, along with the non-resident Ambassador to China, Brian Stuart-Young, Foreign Minister EP Chet Greene, and Chinese diplomats.
This move is considered a critical step towards deepening the relationship between the two nations.
However, Goodwin noted during an OBSERVER radio interview that the cost associated with running the office, staffing, and other concerns make it an unnecessary expense that could be avoided.
“Given the public perception that we are broke and to the extent that they owe so much money to small businesses and contractors, you might wonder why they would want to spend a few million dollars per year running an embassy in China when that money could be used in a much more beneficially way in terms of boosting the economy,”
“As far as I am concerned, it is an unnecessary expense given that a Chinese Embassy is here in Antigua and Barbuda, and the mechanism for a Non-Resident Ambassador has been working with us for the last few years and will continue,” he said.
Speaking specifically about the associated cost, the former Cuban Ambassador said the process starts with the order to establish an embassy in a foreign country; preliminary talks are held between the host and the receiving country, which lead to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
He said that according to his knowledge, once the MOU is signed, the matter is then deliberated on at the Cabinet level.
He says this process ensures that all necessary steps are taken to formally and legitimately establish a diplomatic presence in the foreign country formally and legitimately.
Also critical of the embassy and contracts signed in China is the United Progressive Party caretaker for St John’s Rural East, Sean Bird
Bird said it is one thing for China to offer assistance to Antigua and Barbuda, but at what cost?
“When we look at these things I don’t know if just to stay in power you would sell out your birthright, you selling out your land, you selling out your human resource. The moment you start entertaining certain parts of the world we bring back that mindset,” Bird said.
“Chinese understand exactly what it takes and when they see a hungry man they go into the kitchen and feed him whatever it is and he will sell out whatever it is,” Bird said.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his delegation returned to the island on Monday after what he said was an excellent engagement with the Chinese leadership.
During his visit, he held wide-ranging discussions with Premier Li Qiang and President Xi Jinping, which resulted in the signing of ten Memoranda of Understanding benefiting Antigua and Barbuda’s development and strengthening relations between both countries.
The signed cooperation agreements covered a wide range of areas, including Belt and Road relations, global development initiatives, trade and investment cooperation, and infrastructural development agreements for re-piping St. John’s and eventually all of Antigua and Barbuda.
Additionally, agreements were signed covering digitalization, bio-medics, climate change, and an agreement with the Zhejiang International Studies University and UWI Five Islands Campus.