Guyana Skittish Foreign Policy

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There is growing concern that Guyana’s new Foreign Policy is either not being shaped by the Government of Guyana or by a Government that knows not or cares not about the risks they are exposing Guyanese to. After the United States (U.S) Embassy, not the Government, on Wednesday announced Guyana had opened diplomatic relations with Taiwan, on Thursday the Government announced it is withdrawing that relation.

It was being wondered how Guyana could have navigated its new relationship with Taiwan and China, who have been at war for years. China considers Taiwan a province, even though the latter considers itself an independent state and is fighting the former for statehood/autonomy.

The forging of relations between Guyana and Taiwan had to have predated U.S President Joe Biden administration which is less than three weeks old. It is reasonable therefore to surmise this relation was sealed during the Donald Trump administration. This is Guyana joining the Trump administration trade war, etc. with China and using Taiwan to further that country’s interest.

It would be difficult for the Government to argue they had independently established that new diplomatic relation. People are more inclined to think the Government was forced to do so by President Trump in a quid pro quo (art of the deal), with the U.S having played a meddling role in Guyana 2020 Election. The similarity with Guyana’s interference into Venezuela’s internal affairs at the instruction of the Trump administration is not missed.

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In 2017, the Government of Guyana in celebrating 45 years of diplomatic relations with China, vowed support for the “One China” Policy, which asserts there is only one sovereign state under the name China. Then Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, performing the duties of President, re-asserted Guyana’s commitment in the “attempt to forge a lasting relationship.” Mr. Nagamootoo went further to note that Guyana has always chosen its friends strategically. This no longer seems to be the case under President Irfaan Ali’s administration.

Guyana’s diplomatic relations with China dates to 1972 after the United Nations in 1971 switched diplomatic relations with Beijing. The two countries have benefitted from cultural, health commerce, education and other exchanges. It is also recognised most of Guyana’s developmental loans, particularly infrastructures, are presently being funded by China.

Having left Guyanese in the dark before the Taiwan decision the Irfaan Ali government, through Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugh Todd, sought to assure Guyanese the new relationship will pose no threat to Guyana/China relations. In the Minister’s words “[Guyana’s] position remains unchanged” with China One Policy.

Though this minister came out of academia, having taught international relations, it cannot help but be of concern that he is finding it is difficult to marry academics with real politics, and he is unmindful of Guyana’s traditional non-interference foreign policy which served Guyana well in the past. Even the U.S, as it recognises the Taiwanese’s right to statehood, has been treading the diplomatic needle with caution. And though President Trump took a bullish approach towards the China/Taiwan conflict, his predecessors and President Joe Biden have been sagacious.

Whilst it is all well and good for any nation to promote a foreign policy to enhance its national interest, it continues to be of concern that the foreign policy pursued by the Ali government is that of interference into the internal affairs of sovereign nations. And it is reasonable to ask to what end. Who will have Guyana’s back, a small nation, when it continues to poke its nose into other people’s (countries’) business?

The Ali administration is acting as though Guyana is a satellite state of the U.S, more so of the former Trump administration as evident in President Biden’s departure from his predecessor’s policy on Venezuela. There is an eerie feeling Guyana’s foreign policy is not only off kilt but one that is tethering towards confrontation with forces mightier than us.



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