China accused of forcing Barbados to drop Queen as head of state after ‘debt trap diplomacy’ pressure from Beijing

CHINA has been accused of pressuring Barbados to drop the Queen as their head of State.

The former colony declared they would remove Her Majesty as official head of state as part of celebrations to mark its 55th independence anniversary in next November.

Bajan Government bosses said the move was a bid to "leave [our] colonial past behind".

But now, China has been accused of forcing the island's hand after pressure from Beijing.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, told The Times: "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."

His comments come as CIA intelligence in the US about Chinese activities in Barbados has been shared with British authorities, reports the Daily Mail.

It's thought China's recent interest in the Caribbean – which has seen the Communist Party Government funnel at least $7billion in six Caribbean nations since 2005 – is an attempt to wrangle them from the West's sway of influence.

But some think the price tag could actually be much higher.

Barbados is said to have received around $490million worth of investment, in tourism but also through the private sector.

And eight countries have signed on to Beijing's Belt and Road initiative, including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago – and Barbados.

The Belt and Road initiative sees the building bridges and airports, an improving energy and telecommunications networks in an attempt to "deepen trade ties," says The Mail.

The accusations follow generous investments handed out by China to various Caribbean countries after they agreed to cut ties with other countries on their blacklist – like Taiwan.

China gifted Grenada, which has an annual GDP of just $1.8billion, with a $55million cricket stadium after they severed ties with Taiwan in 2005, similarly the country pumped an estimated $3million into the Dominican Republic in 2018 after they ended things with Taipei.

Barbados's move was announced in a speech written by Prime minister Mia Mottley and read by the country’s governor general, Dame Sandra Mason.

The speech quoted a caution issued by Barbados’ first premier, Errol Barrow against “loitering on colonial premises”.

It said: “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind.

"Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.

"This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.

"Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence."

Although the country became free of colonial rule in 1966, the Queen has remained its constitutional monarch.

Talks for the country to remove the Queen as head of state began decades ago with a constitutional review committee’s recommendation that the country becomes a republic in 1998.

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