July 23, 2019
What is the policy of the NDP on China?

What is the policy of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in relation to China?

The leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP) needs to let the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) know, as we are now left confused following the State visit to SVG of Tsai Ing-Wen, president of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

The behaviour of the Parliamentary Opposition during that visit was contradictory, to say the least, given their adoption of the ‘One China Policy’ almost three years ago. At that time, then leader of the NDP Mr Arnhim Eustace said that “in or out of government”, the Party would “diligently pursue and protect the best strategic interests of our country,” which included recognizing the ‘One China Policy’ as of August 23, 2016.

“…Our international relations stance is in keeping with all of our traditional friends … the United States, Canada, Europe and most of Latin America.

“The People’s Republic of China is indeed a major international player and the New Democratic Party looks forward to close relations with its party and government,” Mr Eustace said then.

The ‘One China Policy’ essentially means that the NDP acknowledges only one sovereign state under the name China, that is the People’s Republic of China. It also means that they do not recognize the government on the Republic of China (Taiwan) as legitimate.

The Party is now under the leadership of Dr Godwin Friday, but he has not indicated that there has been any change in policy. Dr Friday and other members of the Parliamentary opposition were present at the Argyle International Airport to greet President Tsai when she arrived and also at the House of Assembly where she addressed Parliament and the Nation. Since they do not consider the government of Taiwan as legitimate, who did they consider Tsai Ing-Wen was when they turned out to greet and listen to her last week Tuesday?

The foreign policy shift by the NDP in 2016 had taken many by surprise, since in the NDP’s manifesto for the December 2015 general elections, it was stated that the NDP would continue their recognition of Taiwan. Also, when President Tsai was elected to office, then party leader Mr Eustace said at a luncheon in May 2016 that both political parties in St Vincent and the Grenadines are at one in their support of Taiwan.

The NDP’s position on China as stated in 2016 was one of the few instances when a clear policy on an issue had been articulated; that policy is now quite murky, the Party seems unsure about the direction it wishes to take. The next general elections are less than a year and a half away, by now the NDP should be firm in its policy positions. What is the NDP’s position on China, Mr President? Our people need to know.