New Book: Dragon in the Caribbean by Richard L. Bernal

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A report from Jamaica’s Observer.

China’s involvement in the Caribbean has steadily increased during the last decade, evidenced by the number of public buildings and infrastructure constructed by Chinese companies.

The Jamaican Government and China are contemplating the building of a new parliament, further deepening the relationship that has grown with little study on its implications for both Jamaica and China — a type of ‘David and Goliath’ story, but with the main characters working together as allies rather than enemies.

Why is China engaged in a region of small developing countries of questionable strategic value? Why are Caribbean governments so receptive to the People’s Republic of China? Why do some regional states side with Taiwan against the One China policy? Why are Caribbean exports to one of the world’s largest markets so small? What is the region doing to attract more Chinese tourists?

The answers to these and many other questions can be found in the book: Dragon in the Caribbean written by Ambassador Dr Richard L Bernal, pro-vice chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) where the much anticipated book will be launched tomorrow at 6:00 pm at the UWI’s Regional Headquarters on Mona Road.

Guest speaker will be Dr Peter Phillips, former minister of finance and former lecturer at UWI, with remarks from Sir Alister McIntyre and comments from Sir Hilary Beckles, noted historian and UWI vice-chancellor. The event will be followed by a reception courtesy of LASCO and is open to the public. The book, which is not yet in bookstores, will be on sale at the launch.

One of the principal recommendations of the book is that, given the importance of the relationship with China, the Caribbean needs to learn more about that Asian giant, its history, culture, economic prowess, and political system.

Professor Franklin Knight of Johns Hopkins University suggests that Dragon in the Caribbean “adds significantly to the understanding and appreciation of the policy-making powers at play in the relationship between the Caribbean and China”. He notes that the book provides an “overview of China’s changing position and rise in power in the global landscape as well as its growing economic and political presence in the Caribbean”.

The nature, extent and character of this development is then examined and analysed by reviewing development assistance, trade and foreign investment in the Caribbean. Bernal, the former Jamaican ambassador to the United States, outlines some of the considerations and motivations of China and the countries of the Caribbean for deepening their relationship, and discusses the challenges and opportunities for the Caribbean that this relationship presents in the immediate future.

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