China peeved over Pompeo’s statements in South America
The recent visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Suriname and neighbouring South American countries is causing diplomatic discord with the People’s Republic of China. China’s embassies in Suriname, Brazil and Guyana on Tuesday accused Pompeo of telling lies and spreading false information.
Pompeo had arrived in Suriname on Thursday, September 17, and then travelled to Guyana, Brazil and Colombia. In a joint appearance with newly elected Surinamese President Chan Santokhi, Pompeo said on Thursday that Chinese companies often do not compete on a “fair and equitable basis.”
“We’ve watched the Chinese Communist Party invest in countries, and it all seems great at the front end and then it all comes falling down when the political costs connected to that become clear,” the American secretary of state said.
Suriname’s trade ties with China grew under the small South American country’s former President Desi Bouterse, whose presidency was marred by an economic collapse, before he lost a re-election bid to Chandrikapersad Santokhi earlier this year. China has over the past years lent to and invested heavily in Suriname and other resource-rich Latin American countries.
Pompeo’s visit to Suriname focused on offering alternatives to China for economic development in the country and other countries in the region. After talks with Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, Pompeo told the media he had discussed “the importance of keeping Brazil’s future networks safe from the Chinese Communist Party.”
Pompeo’s statements prompted immediate pushback from the Chinese embassies in the region. The embassies of Suriname and Guyana accused him of “spreading rumours” and “smearing” Beijing.
The Chinese embassy in Paramaribo said in a statement that “any attempt to sow discord between China and Suriname is doomed to fail. We advise Mr. Pompeo to respect facts and truth, abandon arrogance and prejudice [and – Ed.] stop smearing and spreading rumours about China.”
China’s embassy in neighbouring Guyana issued a similar statement later after Pompeo visited Georgetown, arguing Beijing “attaches no political strings in bilateral pragmatic cooperation.”
China’s embassy in Brazil made a brief Twitter post on Sunday, in which it “strongly condemned words and deeds that instigate [mistrust] and disrupt China’s relationship with Brazil and other Latin American countries. His vile conspiracy will not succeed.”