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China’s Partnership with Jamaica: Caribbean Colonization?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The partnership between China and Jamaica has been going on for a few years; however, the question still comes up in conversation when one considers a traditional state partnership. Being so, what is China doing in relation to its partnership with the island of Jamaica?

In an interview with Dr. Umar Johnson, he challenges the partnership the Chinese currently have with Jamaica. The partnership Dr. Umar Johnson is referring to is the more than half a billion-dollar (USD) loan given to Jamaica by the Chinese for the purpose of building the island’s new highways. On top of that, China also recently presented Jamaica with another large sum of money for the construction of the new Western Children’s Hospital that was to be built in St. James, Jamaica.

Dr. Umar Johnson addressed the Jamaican-Chinese relationship, stating that this partnership will lead to Chinese colonization in the Caribbean. Additionally, stating that Jamaica’s level of awareness and lack of caution concerning future Chinese leverage is scary.

China has evolved into becoming an economic powerhouse through the outsourcing of many international businesses. China also seeks to boost overseas investments and trade.

Jamaica’s economy is largely based on finance and tourism. Currently, Jamaica’s government is burdened by large foreign debt which causes clear, visible, inflation in the nation’s dollar value. So, the question to be asked is, why would Jamaica benefit more from an exchange with China than it would from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or even other global western superpowers?

The International Monetary Fund was founded in 1945 and has three main roles which consist of international monetary cooperation, facilitation of international trade and financial assistance. The IMF can provide loans to countries at a low-interest rate; however, what are the repercussions for a country that defaults on a loan? Countries can be subject to asset seizures and governmental pressures along with other ramifications.

On the other hand, China provides a generous set of terms including partnerships, long repayment periods and low-interest rates. So why specifically China and not other countries? Doing business with China also means there will be less conditionality unlike business conducted with Western aid which is almost always followed by various conditions.

For instance, China proposed a plan to place a port in Jamaica. This would bring significant benefits to China not only for Chinese laborer contracts but also to increase trade. Looking at the plan and the devastation it would bring to the Jamaican Coastlines, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the port project was canceled. China has since financed new ports in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and the Bahamas.

In situations dealing with colonization, one would usually see privately owned land by the attempting colonizer or at least influence from a foreign government. In this case, there appears to be none. It is true that China appears to have the motive to spread its sphere of influence; however, at the forefront of all of China’s decisions are the financial benefits.

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Hi, my name is Amanda! I am currently a full-time student at Florida State University, and a part time writer with HerCampus. Writing is one of my more prominent passions and I love the ability to be able to share it with you. To keep up with my life…you can follow me on Instagram @theamandaflynn