WILD COOT – China-Barbados
Acometer molinos de viento (To attack windmills/futility of effort). – Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote)
We really did not get much out of our trek to China. Perhaps we had to try, in as much as China is now expanding its influence throughout the world.
It might have been undiplomatic to refuse the invitation. Besides, China is now investing heavily in other countries and in our present state we need to explore all options.
China has invested cash heavily in the United States.
We may say that without it the United States could not survive or afford the three wars that it is famously waging. China’s big spending now is in Africa, and what it is spending there is far in excess of the token goodwill spent in the Caribbean and in particular Barbados – especially now that there is a “rapprochement” between it and Taiwan.
In sub-Saharan Africa it may be regarded as the next imperialistic power. Unlike Barbados, sub-Sahara is teeming with wealth in its quantities of land that can be used for generating crops to feed the huge Chinese population and at the same time feed starving locals. Africa offers wealth in minerals that can be exploited to the benefit of Chinese companies. Africa offers oil, an economic commodity.
One example of Chinese methodology is the way China is acquiring dominion over Zimbabwe. Chinese firms are taking over businesses, big and small. When they do, Chinese managers follow the yuan and this provides outlet for their abundance of labour.
The help is not given like that that comes from the United States, or Canada, or Britain, or even Japan. When China invests in a construction project in a country, as we well know in Barbados, Chinese labour heavily circumscribes that project. What is most disturbing is the exploitation of labour.
In Zimbabwe it is said that the unions are complaining about the $4 per day construction wages. Maybe the fact that we watch this methodology like a hawk has an influence over the attractiveness of investing in Barbados.
I suppose that we must be thankful for what little we get. The structure of our country does not facilitate the exploitation methodology of the Chinese. Therefore we cannot expect big bucks.
Our one attraction is tourism. Our capital structure is more or less sewn up, and there is little room for new players on an advantageous basis unless of course our currency is devalued. Then perhaps China could buy our debt at a discount and advantageously convert their asset into cheap Barbados dollars. This would give them a cheaply built hotel to service customers at a discounted rates, but that would soon cause a furore from the other hotels.
Something is worrying me, but if I want to take my mind off affairs of state, I can read my son’s latest effort. This book is called Guilty and, to tell the truth, it is an intriguing story. I must say that he has trumped me because my book was sent to the publishers before his. Any way this is the young people’s time.
I like the character Mr Jimmy Cadogan. He is a man after my own heart. Indeed if Barbados had some more like him, it would be a very interesting place. For half the earnings on the book I am encouraged to say:
“There will be a launch of the book Guilty at City of Bridgetown Credit Union, Lower Broad Street, Bridgetown, on July 1 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Books will be on sale and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a local charitable organization, the Optimist Club. There will also be giveaways, signing by the author and readings from several parts of the book.”
Harry Russell is a banker. Email [email protected]