China warning: Beijing plotting naval bases on US doorstep, warns MP

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Beijing is investing heavily in the region, as well as countries in Africa and Asia, in accordance with its massive Belt and Road Initiative which has seen billions sunk into third world economies. Tom Tugendhat MP, the influential chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee as well as a leading light in Parliament’s China Research Group, has suggested Chinese influence is a factor in Barbados’s plan to ditch the Queen as head of state.

And Mr Tugendhat’s party colleague, Daniel Kawczynski, agrees, telling Express.co.uk: “There is no doubt in my mind on that and Tom Tugendhat is very right to call this out.

“Whenever we have been to certain British overseas territories, certainly Commonwealth countries, where they continue to have Her Majesty as their head of state, there is a debate which takes place.

“Many of them have told us that the Chinese have invested in their countries and are wanting and expecting and calling for those links to be severed, I would go so far as to way.

“They want to have total control of some of these African and Caribbean countries.

“They want to exert their pressure on them unequivocally.”

Mr Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, added: “You look at a map of the world and you see how they are expanding in the South China Sea.

“They have already got a port in Djibouti.

“This is the thin end of the wedge, because if the Chinese were ever to start to get naval bases somehow in the Caribbean and suchlike then we are facing a much more complex and dangerous world.”

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Mr Kawczynski said the UK had a role to play in a world in which the rules of international engagement were being rapidly rewritten.

He explained: “The Commonwealth has never been more important for global security and in a post-Brexit world I think that the revitalised Foreign Office and Department for International Development combined (DFiD) is a masterstroke by the Prime Minister.

“As we are dealing with Commonwealth countries and countries that do require international money, it is going to be absolutely essential to ensure that they are not coming under any influence or pressure from the Chinese.

“The irony here is that this is a brutal, oppressive, communist regime and yet they are probably the most cut-throat capitalists that you will ever come across.

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“With these contracts which they agree with some of these poor, third-world countries, it’s like they sell them something on credit at a 150 percent annual rate.

“They get you, they get their claws into you, and then it is very difficult for that country actually to manage to assert its own independence and sovereignty, because of all the clauses in the contracts which given the Chinese exclusive access and all the rest of it.”

Mr Kawczynski said: “If the United Kingdom was to behave in anything like the way the Chinese have treated these third world countries there would quite rightly be uproar in the UK.

“Free people in a free country would not tolerate these sorts of practices but unfortunately we are not dealing with free people in a free country.

“We are dealing with a communist dictatorship that is seeking to increase its world domination.”

Speaking last month, Mr Tugendhat said: “China has been using infrastructure investment and debt diplomacy as a means of control for a while and it’s coming closer to home for us.

“British partners have long faced challenges from rivals seeking to undermine our alliance.

“Today we’re seeing it in the Caribbean. Some islands seem to be close to swapping a symbolic Queen in Windsor for a real and demanding emperor in Beijing.”

Barbados is one of at least eight Caribbean nations which have signed up for the initiative, as well as Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, spending almost £5.5billion since 2005.

The money has gone on constructing roads, ports and – in the case of the Bahamas – a five-star casino and resort called the Baha Mar.

Speaking prior to a visit to the Caribbean in February 2018, then-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China was using “economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit”.

In a question apparently aimed at the countries in which Beijing was investing, he added: “At what price?”

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