PM Accuses Opposition of Duplicitous Diplomacy on China

The House of Representatives met today in Belmopan and talk of mainland China dominated the exchanges across the floor.

That's partly because a 50 million US dollar loan from Taiwan was tabled in the house today - and also because the PUP's Kareem Musa recently made a one week trip to mainland China.

As you probably know, communist China - which is a global superpower - claims its neighbor Taiwan - a small, but prosperous island democracy. So, any flirtation with China creates a major alarm in Taiwan - since countries must choose either one or the other - Belize cannot be allied to both.

And, in the past two years, China has been steadily and systematically sniping off Taiwan's allies. So, this morning, the Prime Minister opened the sitting with a Minister's statement - speaking about the enduring importance of Belize's friendship with Taiwan - and the peril that he claims the PUP is creating with by flirting with mainland China. He said that when Kareem Musa went to China, he violated an understanding both major political parties have that they will stick with Taiwan:...

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't know how it is that what as I said has been fertilized by by both parties over these many long years can all of a sudden can be put in prejudice by members of the People's United Party and I note that there has been no official statement from the party. The member for Caribbean Shores has had a lot to say. I don't know that I have heard from the 2 city councillors, but he clearly was the leader of the delegation. He's had a lot to say, but his leadership has not in fact indicated that this was a sanctioned mission and I for one hope that it is not, but I would like to hear officially from them if there is going to be a departure from what as I said we thought was a national understanding. We need to know. Somebody who is a neophyte in diplomacy, a novice in matters of state, has had the hubris to decide, perhaps, entirely without the concurrence or leave of his party that he can be some sort of master of state-craft. This simply cannot be. Why then do we act in a way that suggest to the world that we are contemplating the betrayal of Taiwan, that we would sell out this bedrock relationship for a mess of political pottage. They must be aware of the tremendous increase in tension between the United States and China and I don't think it is any secret. I am sure what the Americans have come to tell me, they have also gone to tell the leader of the opposition and that is this, that they are not going to look kindly, after what happened with Panama and the Dominican Republic, on China poaching any small country that is located in what the Americans, what it pleases them to call their backyard."

PUP Alleges UDP Ministers Went To China

We note that PUP leader John Briceno was absent from today's sitting because he's still recovering from his accident related injuries, so we couldn't ask him if the trip was approved or not.

But, the PUP's point man today, Deputy Leader Cordel Hyde said that it was a personal trip and the PUP weren't "tripping" about it since they'd heard of a senior UDP Minister going to Beijing a few months ago, as well.

Here's how Hyde put it:

Hon. Cordel Hyde, PUP Deputy Leader
"When a few weeks or months ago we heard when a senior member of the UDP cabinet had visited mainland China in a most clandestine manner..."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Madam Speaker, to talk about some member of this administration having gone to mainland China without any kind of evidence to support that."

Hon. Cordel Hyde, PUP Deputy Leader
"When we heard that you did not hear a pipsqueak from us. We did not say anything. We did not put out any release, because we understand and we assume that in an independent nation, consenting adults can visit any country on this planet if they can afford to go. The Prime Minister tries to make it seem as if though they are the only ones who supports Taiwan and there is some shift in our policy, when he well knows there is shift in our policy. We have spoken. He is hypocritical Madam Speaker, they have big time relations with people from mainland China, big time relations with Brads. Isn't he from mainland China? If fact one of their candidates is a Chinese candidate."

Hon. Kareem Musa, PUP, Caribbean Shores
"They are using my private personal trip as a distraction, when in fact deputy prime minister was also in China. You want to talk about that. The member from Dangriga was also in mainland China."

Hon. Patrick Faber, UDP - Collet
"That is an outright blatant lie. He is maligning my name and he is using the comfort of this honourable house to do so, because if he says that outside, he knows I could sue him, but in here he is enjoying the comfort of this house."

Hon. Kareem Musa, PUP, Caribbean Shores
"You want me to produce the plane ticket?"

Hon. Pawpa Mena, UDP Dangriga
"Madam Speaker it is unfair for the member from Caribbean Shores, I was in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong, that's not mainland China. Good. His problem, he always try to pontificate and pull his own little stories. Stop the lies."

Faber Denies Beijing Backdoor

So UDP Dangriga Rep and Minister of State Frank Pawpa Mena went to Hong Kong - which is under Chinese control, and known as a Special administration Region of China.

But it's not considered "mainland China."

But, he's just a Minister of State - Patrick Faber is the Deputy Prime Minister - so the big burning question is: did he go to Beijing? He denied it on the house floor but we put it squarely to him outside the house meeting:

Reporter
"Have you travelled to China as has been allege on the house? We heard that there have had been meetings with you and the Chinese."

Hon. Patrick Faber, UDP - Collet
"What has been said is that I have had travelled there and in fact I have gone there with the Boledo man. I would say this that in earlier this year, in May, I was invited to go to China by UNESCO meetings that have been held there and I had thought with the idea of going yes, but the Taiwanese weren't very comfortable with me taking that on even though it was a UNESCO meeting and so I decided not to go on that trip and then there were rumours that I have a plan to go China in October and I think they are getting it all wrong. I am slated to go for the national day of Taiwan where we will commemorate the 30 year old friendship with Taiwan, so that is coming up in October. My position I must make absolutely clear that I am 100% in support of the government and people of Taiwan in keeping them as our partner. There were blows thrown this morning as it relates especially to Chinese business people. I think it is an unfair blow. While we do not have diplomatic relations with mainland China, there are many Chinese people who are here and who are Belizeans and the kind of blows that were thrown this morning was certainly very much uncalled for and so that is very unfortunate, including the blow against Brads."

Reporter
"To be clear, you have not travelled to China?"

Hon. Patrick Faber, UDP - Collet
"No. I have not, on any kind of invitation from the BCA or of Brads or of anybody like that, so I am making that absolutely clear. I have not been Hong Kong either."

Reporter
"Have you had any backchannel meetings with any functionary of the Chinese government outside of China in a neutral territory?"

Hon. Patrick Faber, UDP - Collet
"None at all, sir."

Later on in the news you'll hear more from Faber as he discusses whether the possibility of taking over from Dean Barrow in the first quarter of next year.

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