The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) is open to reviewing its adoption of the One-China policy, which calls for ending ties with Taiwan in favour of the People’s Republic of China.
In August 2016, then NDP president and leader of the opposition, Arnhim Eustace, announced that the NDP no longer supported Kingstown-Taipei ties, which were established in 1981.
And, Godwin Friday, who replaced Eustace in both posts in November 2016, said last year said that the pro-Beijing stance remains the NDP policy for the time being.
“The policy remains the same. We are in opposition so we have stated our support and our commitment to the One-China Policy. That hasn’t changed. We are not in government so we can only maintain that position in opposition,” Friday told iWitness News last October.
However, speaking on radio on Monday, Sir James, who is founder of the NDP, was critical of the authoritarian government in Venezuela.
Asked how does the NDP, therefore, justify its pro-China policy in light of his criticism of socialist governments, Sir James said:
“I cannot justify all that the NDP does. Also, China is not entirely just a communist country. China is communist in its control of the people. It is not communist with regards to the creation of wealth. China is not trying to consolidate all the wealth into the government.”
Sir James said he was not trying to justify communism in China.
“Listen, I am going to China for a conference soon. That’s doesn’t mean I am reversing my position on communism.”
He further said that people should read Friday’s statement on the NDP’s China-Taiwan policy.
“Dr. Friday also said that he would make up his mind when we get there. What does that mean? All I have to say is, Taiwan is already here and doing a great job and [we have] good relations with them.
“As I see it with China, they will come and give you great projects and do a lot for you. They would do the roads, but no Vincentian would get a job, not a Vincentian business would sell a screw, there is input into the economy, they will produce things for you. I do not think that is the way St. Vincent wants to develop.
“We have to be careful with our foreign policy. We have to be careful and all I would say, as a man living in a house with a lovely lady or a wife and you wake up one morning and tell the wife, ‘Darling, by the way, I decide I looking for another woman.’”
The former prime minister is enjoying a warmer relationship with the NDP under Friday’s leadership, compared to the strained links under Eustace’s leadership, which ran from October 2000 to November 2016.
Sir James attended the Taiwan National Day celebrations in Kingstown last October, which some persons welcomed as a significant statement in opposition to the NDP’s announced policy.
However, when invited to deliver some comments at the event, Sir James said that on the Beijing/Taipei question, Kingstown should seek “bankable assurances”.
When asked by IWitness News, he declined to elaborate on the meaning of his expression.
Some persons, however, commented that Sir James was advocating a foreign policy for sale.