China in the Americas

How the Caribbean Approaches Diplomacy with China

March 04, 2021 Episode 15
China in the Americas
How the Caribbean Approaches Diplomacy with China
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode I am joined by Barbados's Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, His Excellency Ambassador Francois Jackman. We discussed several major foreign policy and geopolitical themes centred on the Caribbean's diplomatic posture towards China and the North Atlantic.

Ambassador Jackman on Twitter: @francoisjackman

Show Notes

Message/Follow me on Twitter: @rasheedguo (for more info on China-Caribbean topics)
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Intro/Outro Music
Rise and Shine by Bunny Wailer

Rasheed 00:03 Welcome to the podcast, Ambassador Jackman, and thank you so much for having this conversation.

Amb. Jackman 01:05 It's my pleasure Rasheed. I want to start by thanking you for inviting me. And also, I congratulating you for this excellent initiative. This podcast series, which I hope will last on and on is really filling a gap in the intellectual and analytical market, here in the Caribbean in respect of our relationship with China. And I really want to encourage you to keep going to expand the scope of your subject matters. And to keep broadening your guest list. You've had some really outstanding guests so far. The podcasts have been really high quality. And as I say you are making an important contribution to the public discourse and analysis of this increasingly important relationship. So well done to you.

Rasheed 01:55 Thank you very much. And I definitely do plan to do a lot more content expansion. I want to start with a foundational question. What would you consider to be the conceptualisation of Barbados says Post-Independent Foreign Policy?

Amb. Jackman 02:13 Well, we always go back in my profession in Barbados, we always go back to that seminal speech given by Errol Barrow, when Barbados was admitted to the United Nations in 1966. And it's a speech that's worth looking at, in some detail. We often know it in Barbados, and perhaps beyond as the satellites of non-speech, where Prime Minister Barrow set out some of the key principles of our foreign policy that being perhaps, given the Cold War context of the time, the satellites have none idea being perhaps the most well-known, and it is an absolutely critical, very well crystallized idea, which has a very well rooted historical meaning, as well as having proven the test of time by remaining quite relevant to this day. There's several other key elements in in Prime Minister barrows speech to the UN, but one which is often overlooked in which I find really, is equally critical. And that is, he said that, "Our foreign policy is a reflection of our domestic reality". In other words, the goals that we are seeking to achieve as a society. The values and objectives that we hold dear, as a small emerging, developing society, are those things which inform our international posture. 

So when you take these two ideas that we will be on the one hand, "Friends of all, and Satellites of none". And that, on the other hand, our foreign posture rule reflects our National Domestic goals and values. I think you have the two key ideas which have underpinned Barbadian foreign policy, since its creation in 1966.

Rasheed 04:24 Was the phrase "friends of all, satellites of none" Barrow's invention? I know that other prime ministers in the region around that same time and also use that phrase quite a lot.

Amb. Jackman 04:38 Well, I believe it was originally Barrow's phrase, but it's certainly captured an idea which was prevalent across what in the 1960s was the decolonizing world, the world of countries that used to be colonies of nations Politics powers who were coming into their own as independent states, and who were saying to the world, at the time, it was the Cold War, it was a bipolar universe in which the United States and the Soviet Union were confronting one another in cold, but very hard turns. And most of the countries that came of age in those in those years, were saying to those two principal actors of the bipolar world, we don't want to have to choose, we want to be able to have relationships with the two of you, which do not prejudice, our relationship with the other, and this was one of the beating principles, the beating heart of the nonaligned movement, which is formed in the 1950s. We also want to have a relationship amongst ourselves. So I think barrows phrase is his own and is a Barbadian phrase, but it, it crystallises and captures a much broader sentiment that many across the developing world would have felt in the 1960s and 70s.

Rasheed 06:12 One could argue that the geopolitical system of the world has shifted. since, 1966. Do you think that the foreign policy basis still retains its salience?

Amb. Jackman 06:25 I would say that these are two principles around which many ideas and actions can pivot. So that while we have, we have done different things over time, those are the principles that have remained relevant and frankly, have remained our guiding light. So I would say that they are not in any way obsolete. And in fact, if you think about some of the key issues that we're confronted with today, the response to COVID-19 issues to do with equitable access to international finance, climate change, these are all issues which are spoken to by the idea that we should be friends of all satellites of none, and that our foreign policy must be a reflection of our National Domestic interests.

Rasheed 07:21 There is a particular orientation of Barbados’s foreign policy where there is an outsize, at least, in my interpretation, and outside skew towards the US, the UK and Canada. These are, of course, the former colonial ties, and at least at present the largest tourism markets for Barbados. But I do wonder is this outsized weight placed on these markets a consequence of the understanding that they should have outsized weight? Or is it an example of the understanding of rebalancing towards other markets is important, but it's very hard to adjust ingrained foreign policy.

Amb. Jackman 08:06 Our principal traditional, diplomatic, commercial, partnerships are with North America and Western Europe. That comes from the history that we've inherited from our colonial past. And to this day, it reflects a substantive, generally positive reality in terms of what these relationships have allowed us to achieve over the years. So it's not a matter that these relationships are old and have run their course. It's a more question. These are relationships which we have always had, we have always valued, have had, as all relationships do their ups and downs, but they continue to be extremely important. At the same time, of course, given the fact that the world of 2021 is not the world of 1966, our foreign policy is called upon by the changing circumstances, to evolve. 

09:12 So the fact that you and I are having this discussion today, the fact that you are running a podcast on China in the Caribbean, is a sign that our foreign policy is evolving to reflect the new realities 15 years ago, there was there would have been very little to talk about in terms of the Caribbean China relationship, or I should say, there would have been rather less to talk about than there is today. So I think we can as Richard Nixon said, we can do the two things we can walk, which is to follow the metaphor, we can continue to have a maintain and strengthen the important relationships we have with our traditional partners. And we can chew gum at the same time. We can and indeed, we must. Cause our foreign postures more foreign policy or foreign posture to evolve to meet the changing circumstances, to develop new partnerships, for example, with countries like China.

Rasheed 10:15 And of course, we will move to our China conversation very soon. But before we do that, I want to emphasize the CARICOM aspect. For context, the CARICOM is the Caribbean community. It's a regional organisation of 15 states, in the Caribbean, from Belize to Barbados; Jamaica to Guyana. And the rationale for this was twofold. In a very broad way, you have the internal rationale, we're small Caribbean countries and have very severe capacity constraints on even internal activities. But when you expand that into a regional platform, the capacity constraint loosens, you have more ability to get things done. And then on the external front, obviously to have a 15-vote block move into a large global organization like the UN, WTO or OAS, it therefore moves the small Caribbean States into much more influential position; where negotiation can be done at a more strength-based level. By the same time the CARICOM is known for listening Caribbean to have these fairly substantial defects when it comes to negotiation, and internal coordination. So from your perspective, how relevant is the CARICOM as a tool to advance Barbados's foreign policy posture globally?

Amb. Jackman 11:43 It is still as relevant and absolutely vital. It is important and reactive, responsive foreign policy tool for all of the members of the Caribbean community. And thinking in in broad terms, certainly there are areas where the members of the Caribbean community diverge on foreign policy. And sometimes these can be quite visible areas. But this is like perhaps the tip of the iceberg. The nine tenths of the iceberg beneath is an iceberg in which we are coordinated. We are largely on the same page. So is the Caribbean community foreign policy coordination system perfect? No, it's not. Does it give us all that we want? No, it doesn't. But it is an essential tool of Barbados foreign policy, and I believe the foreign policy of all of the Caribbean member states. I mean, even if you think about one of the other important regional integration movements in the world, the European Union, which is in many ways, far better resourced, for more institutionally strong. And of course, relies on membership of countries that have much more diplomatic resources available to them. Even they struggle with big issues with difficult issues. 

So quite naturally, there will be moments where the Caribbean community members struggle with difficult issues. But it would be interesting to conduct some sort of data survey to see, you know, what is the percentage of times that CARICOM countries align on foreign policy, versus the percentage of times that we don't, I would have no hesitation in saying that the overwhelming majority of times we do align, and therefore that makes the CARICOM mechanism, both successful and important. And even more so as we are thinking about the future, in a, in a universe in an international system, which perhaps is less stable than it has been in the past, where there are new important actors on the international stage with whom we wish to have a relationship with whom we wish to develop a relationship. And of course, in international relations, it's almost always better when you're doing it as a group than when you're on your own. This is true for small countries like Barbados, and it's true for large countries like the United States or the United Kingdom. So, as we look back, I think it's fair to say that the Caribbean community tool has been a vital tool for us, and it's going to be even more important as we look forward.

Rasheed 14:59 A social central point of difference in terms of CARICOM and the US has been Cuba. And this has been the case for quite some time now. I think listeners will be curious to hear about the Caribbean’s perspective of foreign policy of Cuba.

Amb. Jackman 15:18 Well, Cuba has been for Barbados and many other countries in the Caribbean, a vital partner for a long time. It's no secret that there are scores of Cuban medical personnel in Barbados, as we speak, helping Barbados to confront the public health challenges posed by the pandemic. It's no secret that Barbados's views and the views of the Caribbean and to be candid, the overwhelming majority of countries in the world diverged with the views of the United States on how Cuba should be treated within the United Nations system within the international system. It's no secret and this was one of I think, the really, truly great moments of Barbadian foreign policy history, that in 1972, in a coordinated move, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Jamaica, established diplomatic relations with Cuba at a time where the Cold War was raging, where Cuba was considered by our American friends to be a country with which it had a problematic relationship. But our view was that Cuba is part of the Caribbean. Cuba is a country with which we have bonds of culture, family affinities that go back decades, if not centuries. 

And in a way, it's a no brainer. And within the Caribbean itself, the issue of our relationship with Cuba is, is a perfectly routine one. And I think this is understood by our friends, whoever they may be. I think it's difficult to underestimate the support that Cuba has provided to Barbados, in this pandemic moment, and Prime Minister motley, his conversation with President de-escalated not a few weeks ago, underlines the importance that we attach to this, it's no secret, and it's not going to change.

Rasheed 17:49 And now moving towards the more China centric conversation, Barbados opened its embassy in Beijing in 2010, which is about almost 40 years or so, after China opened the embassy in Barbados, somewhat why exactly 2010 was still auspicious for this movement. What was the variables that happened to push barbers to finally open embassy in China?

Amb. Jackman [18:20] There's no simple one cause answer to your question. But I think what occurred in 2010 was the coming together of a number of factors which had been brewing for some time, I think, since the beginning of the 2000s. China's accession to the WTO. The major revisions being undertaken to the international trading system, China's emergence as a major international trading partner, it was becoming clear that having an enhanced relationship for Barbados with China was a necessity. It was something and this is, I think, something quite interesting. It was something on which both major political parties agreed, because if I remember correctly, the opening of a diplomatic mission in Beijing, featured in the manifestos of both the major political parties that ran in the 2008 elections. And so it came as no surprise when having said that they would do it after the time it takes to get together the administrative and financial means to do it. It occurred in 2010. So I would really say that it was a fairly natural progression in the development of our foreign policy, and in our own thrust to diversify our diplomatic network. You're right, it could have happened in 2008. It could have happened in 2012. As it happens, the circumstances were came together in 2010 to make it happen then.

Rasheed [20:12] But was there a weight placed on any particular aspect, like trade, diplomacy, political rebalancing, the financial crisis have some role to play from 2008.

Amb. Jackman [20:25] It was all of those things. China was coming towards the top of our list of major trading partners, I think it was 22 or 23, at the beginning of the 2000s, it's now number 3 or 4, depending on how you look at it. And it was clear back then, that this was a country with whom our trading links were growing and would continue to grow. It was also and this was certainly something that motivated the opening of the embassy, it was also clearly emerging as a significant market for goods and services, which we thought Barbados, and other Caribbean countries would be able to sell to China. So I think those were two important elements, which motivated the opening of the mission in Beijing, as well, of course, is the kind of the general geopolitical circumstances. For some time now Barbados has been in its foreign policy, looking to diversify its diplomatic relationships. China has been for a long time since we established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1977, had been a good friend, a dependable and loyal supporter of things we were trying to do. And it seemed like, I think, a perfectly natural next step to take in our relationship.

Rasheed [21:54] Were you involved in the embassy opening?

Amb. Jackman [21:58] I was indeed. I was the Chargé d'Affaires who went in 2009 to do the groundwork and to welcome our first resident Ambassador who was a former Prime Minister Sir. Lloyd Erskine Sandiford. And I mean, his choice alone will tell you the importance that Barbados attached to that relationship. It was the first time I believe -- the first and only time that Barbados has ever sent a former prime minister to be a head of diplomatic mission. You couldn't want to clear a signal that this is a mission to which the country attaches the highest importance.

Rasheed [22:34] Was there anything particularly interesting about that early period that you wish to share?

Amb. Jackman [22:41] Well, I'll say that it was a moment in in China's economic development and kind of diplomatic and geopolitical outreach, which was, I think, quite special. It was on the, on the back of the 2008 Summer Olympics, which were hosted in Beijing, where, you know, China was showing a desire and indeed a very successful means of welcoming the world into China. It was on the back of China's going global strategy in which it too was seeking to capitalize on the extraordinary economic domestic economic development that was going on to diversify its own commercial and diplomatic relations. 2010 specifically was the year where, Shanghai hosted one of the major international expos in Barbados and CARICOM participated in that Expo in a major way. So it was really a moment, a period of great energy. And in the post in the wake of the 2007, 2008 financial debacle, which swept, in particular, the western financial system. It was a way of showing the world that there were ways of spurring economic development and international relations beyond those difficult times. So I would say it was a period of great optimism on all sides.

Rasheed [24:25] I think the first time I heard anyone seriously talk about China, in a foreign policy terms in Barbados was when I heard your presentation at the annual Central Bank of Barbados conference. I think this was 2015 or 2014, perhaps, and you argued that Barbados should pivot or rebalance towards China, I thought was pretty interesting. I mean, that's actually what got me along the idea of discussing China in the first place in Caribbean all that time. But could you explain to us what did you mean by a pivot to China, in context for the Caribbean?

Amb. Jackman [25:09] Well, we started off by talking about our traditional relationships with the North --- let's call it the North Atlantic world: North America, and Western Europe. That's a relationship that has a great deal of economic, commercial trade substance. But it also has cultural ties, you know, affinities to do with family, common values, shared history, and the like, so that we understand Western Europe and North America, and they understand us, in a way, which is born of a long association. It's been an association in some, you know, at some periods of our history, literally soaked in blood and, and domination, and the most violent co forms of asymmetry. But it's been a certain Association, nonetheless, so that we have an understanding of how this relationship works. 

Both in its positive and its negative aspects. And my argument about the pivot to China, and I use the word pivot, it wasn't my term, it was a term I borrowed from our American friends who were talking more or less about, at the same time, about their own pivot or rebalancing towards Asia, to slightly different idea. But the broader idea is that, so we have this mature, well established set of relations with partners that we've known for a long time, we need to keep those are important. At the same time, the world is changing China, and Asia more broadly. But we're talking about China. So let's be specific about China. China is coming up as an increasingly important trading partner, as I said, before they moved from 25 to number 03, or number 04, we have to look at this and understand what this means for our own foreign policy, and its consequences on our own domestic situation. So the idea of a pivot was not so much that we should stop looking in one place and start looking at another place. But we should start looking more broadly, and begin to develop an understanding of what this new emerging relationship with China meant for us, meant for them, and critically, how best we could contribute towards shaping this relationship, in a way which would be beneficial to us. That was really the underlying argument of that paper. And honestly, I think its arguments remain valid today.

Rasheed [28:00] So when people hear that -- and when I say people -- I mean, to North Atlantic policy circles and think tankers, when they hear that small countries are attempted to do more business with China, they have this sentiment that is quoted as they are breaking away, unquote, from the North America system, or North Atlantic, so the UK and Europe as well. I wonder when Barbados decided to open its 2010 embassy in Beijing, was there any sentiment in the foreign office that this would have some negative externality on the UK, Canadian or USA relationship?

Amb. Jackman [28:47] No, there was never any idea that we would have to sacrifice one for the other. That remains the case today. And it is I think, it would be a real problem, a kind of almost systemic problem if, in those relationships, we came to a point where we were required to make a choice. And in fact, in last week's edition of the American magazine foreign policy, there is a piece -- I can't remember who wrote it, but there is a piece on this very issue. Speaking about Latin America, the United States and China. It doesn't really address the Caribbean as often is the case. But frankly, it is equally applicable to to the Caribbean. So it was never within the contemplation of our policymakers that rebalancing our diplomatic network to develop relations with China and Asia. More broadly, would have a negative effect on our relations with our traditional partners. I think it's fair to say that we believe quite strongly that it should be possible. It is possible. It is, in fact, the case that we have good relations, important relations with, with both. And this comes back to that founding principle of our foreign policy we started talking about at the beginning of our discussion, which is that we should be, we can be and that we are friends of all but satellites of non.

Rasheed [30:37] Some small states face a problem of power asymmetries. And the Caribbean, of course, is by no means a stranger to that particular problem. What's your view on Caribbean institutions in regards to the ability to withstand any and all forms of influence?

Amb. Jackman [30:57] Well, this comes back to our discussion about the importance and the value and the success of the of the Caribbean of CARICOM and its and its institutions. I think the short and simple answer to your question is yes, despite the asymmetry, and as you say, we are, we are familiar with the consequences of a symmetry, despite the asymmetry. It is the taste Now, I would argue, and it's certainly I think it will be the case going forward, that our regional institutions that are regional coordination, whether they're formal or informal, because the informal networks are also very critical, are in fact, doing what they ought to do, they are giving us the foundations for stronger, less asymmetric relations with our major partners. 

Now, no one who works in who has worked in the CARICOM foreign policy environment, whether that person is from Barbados, Belize, Guyana, or Trinidad and Tobago will say to you, yes, it works great. And it couldn't be better. Nobody will say that. But I think we will all say that. It plays a vital role in developing our foreign policy posture with regard to our new and traditional partners. And that, in many instances, it has been able to channel the relationship in extremely positive ways. And really, I think our our regional institutions are some of the least appreciated, but most successful examples of both. They're the effect of regional integration within the region, but also in terms of our relationship with foreign partners. Let me give you a simple example; CDEMA, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency does what it says it does in the title. But what it also does, and this is incredibly important, in particular, in moments of extreme disaster, and when countries are facing real problems, it becomes a single point of contact for foreign interlocutors. 

So it is able to coordinate with our American partners, our Chinese partners, with partners in the international amongst the international organizations, the provision of support, assistance and aid. If that were not the case, we would have all of the partners talking to all 15 CARICOM member countries individually, serially, and that would be a recipe for disaster. Another excellent example is the Caribbean Regional Public Health Agency CARPHA, which has been doing yeoman's service in coordinating a regional public policy response to this extraordinarily difficult moment that we're having now with the Covid 19 pandemic. The Caribbean Development Bank, essentially takes in funds from donor countries, larger non board member countries, from outside of the Caribbean and channels it within the region to our different member of Caribbean borrowing member countries. These are institutions that are vital in shoring up the regional integration movement on the one hand, and acting as a powerful, credible interlocutor for foreign partners.

Rasheed [35:08] And I should point out that China is a non-borrowing member of the Caribbean Development Bank. I think a lot of international listeners may not be aware of that. Regarding the One China policy and its interpretation, CARICOM is in a very unique place. Of the 14 states globally that recognize Taiwan as ROC, 5 of that 14 are in CARICOM, or to interpret differently, there are 5 of the 15 CARICOM states that recognized ROC. So I wonder if this brings up a material sticking point, when you have these CARICOM level foreign policy conversations.

Amb. Jackman [35:54] I would say that, notwithstanding this divergence that you've described, those of us in the Caribbean who have diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China have as a group and I think it's nine members of CARICOM, in total, have as a group with the People's Republic of China established a number of dialogue and coordination mechanisms. We have a dialogue and coordination mechanism. on foreign policy, the Caribbean, China consultations, which meet separately led the level of foreign minister or vice minister, every other year, we have a similar mechanism, which focuses on trade and economic cooperation. We've been having discussions sort of using offshoots of those mechanisms. Recently on COVID. We have had discussions through the China's mechanism, the China, which is the China, Latin American and Caribbean community mechanism. 

So I would say that we have been able to establish enough institutional mechanisms to allow for a coordinated and interactive flow of discussion between those of us in the Caribbean who have relations with the PRC, and the PRC, again, as was, as I was saying before about the Caribbean institutions, these are not perfect, I think neither side would look at them and say, yes, they have produced everything that we have wanted. But they have produced a lot of good things. Their continuation is essential as a means of ensuring that the channels for dialogue and interaction continue. And I believe, I think as this pandemic is causing most of us in most sectors to think things through in new ways and resetting old ways of doing things, I am quite certain that these institutions are also going to benefit from kind of renewed energy coming out of our need to address collectively, both the effects of this the public health effects of the pandemic, as well as the long term economic consequences.

Rasheed [38:27] Is there a similar sub grouping of coordination mechanisms for the ROC-recognized-Caribbean countries that you know of?

Amb. Jackman [38:39] That's a good question, and I don't know.

Rasheed [38:43] Okay. And if I remember correctly, I believe it was St. Vincent and Grenadines that attended the last CELAC forum. St. Vincent is a partner of Taiwan, and is still at a forum which is an official PRC platform. St. Vincent because it's still in the region,  says, Hey, we still want to participate and go to the CELAC forum as well. So it does indicate something that --- there's no brick wall, per se, between the countries in the region that have a split in recognition, where I think outside the region, you may think of it as a complete brick wall.

Amb. Jackman [39:24] I think that's a very good point. You are clearly a very keen observer of these things. And in the China-CELAC configuration, China has been very clear. CELAC has been very clear that it is a discussion a cooperation mechanism between all of the countries that are members states and China. So that there again is an example of where as you said, there has not been a brick wall where perhaps one might have thought that there would be. And to me, I think this is a good thing. This is a sign that we can keep moving forward together.

Rasheed [40:08] A few years ago, there was an appears article by Stratfor - that is the geopolitical consulting firm -  they wrote an article about how the Caribbean has faded from the geopolitical scene. And in their argument, the idea was, well, for centuries, the Caribbean was the center of geopolitics -  geopolitics, in a new world, but now its at the periphery of the New World, in terms of geopolitics. And I suppose now China, and soon to be other Asian powers reentering, or in some cases entering for the first time, that model perhaps might have to be adjusted. I do wonder if you have an opinion, on this interpretation of the Caribbean’s geopolitics. From the center to periphery, and perhaps the center again?

Amb. Jackman [40:59] Yeah, I think this is an interesting idea --- But I would -- with all due respect to the academic world, and I say this, because I'd like to make a point after about the importance of academic research and thinking on these topics. With all due respect to the academic world, I don't think this is really an issue in the either the reality of how diplomacy is practiced, or indeed the kind of the long term, medium term issues with which the Caribbean is faced. And we have the good fortune, that by and large, and this is certainly true for Barbados, I think we can say more broadly, it's true for the member states of the Caribbean community, we have, by and large, been successful at being" friends of all and satellites of none". And our partners, whether they be in the north or the south, and the East, or the West have recognized this. And they value this in Barbados, because it says to them that what we say today about our commitments, and our values will be true tomorrow, so that you can depend on this relationship. You may not always like what we do. But we will be true to the principles that we have set out.

[42:32] So using that idea and taking the members of the Caribbean community more broadly, I think that we can continue to have valuable, interactive, and mutually beneficial relations with our traditional partners, and with our emerging partners. Barbados right now is in the process of opening new diplomatic missions in new parts of the world where we have never been before. This is a sign that we understand that it is important to diversify our diplomatic networks, it's important to diversify our commercial networks, it's important to find new markets for our goods and services, new partners to create new opportunities for both sides. 

So I'm not in the slightest bit troubled by whether or not we are up or down in the geopolitical stakes. We have our friends or traditional friends, we have strong new friends, we're looking to develop further into the international system. And I believe that by the strength of our values, the modest resources that we have to put behind them, by the strength of the regional coordination of the regional identity that we have within the Caribbean, we have many reasons to be optimistic about the future. That is not to say that the road ahead is going to be an easy road. 

That is obviously not going to be the case. And the challenges that have been brought up by the pandemic have are extraordinary and tragic in and of themselves, but have also served to tease out a number of the longer term systemic issues that countries like Barbados, that small island developing states, low lying coastal states and developing states of all kinds have faced in the international system and have been campaigning to have addressed and so we are challenged by the present environment, to say to the international community. This system needs reform in order to address the needs of all of its members, not just the most powerful, those with the hardest power, but all of us. 

And the pandemic, as I said, has exacerbated issues to do with inequality within states, but amongst it, and Prime Minister Mottley [of Barbados], and all of her predecessors going back the quarter century, that I've been in the diplomatic business have been saying, for example, that the GDP per capita measurement tool is not a good tool. For countries like ours, we need to find a better tool, we have been talking about various kinds of vulnerability indices, tools that genuinely measure both the wealth that we have that reflect the vulnerabilities created by the unique circumstances that we face a small island developing states as low lying coastal states. 

So it is a tough road ahead. But we have many opportunities, which we have to fight for. And I think that this, the emergence of new diplomatic partnerships, new commercial partnerships, is one of the best ways that we can find to achieve those goals.

Rasheed [46:28] And is there any theme or topic you'd like to emphasize, as we close our conversation?

Amb. Jackman [46:36] I'd perhaps like to emphasize the importance of the regional dimension of our relationship with China, but more broadly speaking, the importance of our regional institutions in our interactions with the rest of the world. Individually, we all struggle to make an impact on the diplomatic scene. Our missions are small or embassies, our foreign ministries are small. But when we come together, it is universally recognized that there is a powerful, respected CARICOM voice on the international scene. 

And the more we can have it heard, the louder it can be. It can be made, the greater the number of partners with which, as a Caribbean group we can interact of the better this will be for Barbados, as an individual country, for the individual members of the Caribbean community, but also for the community as a whole. So it's really important, I think --- As we think about Barbados' foreign policy, we really think of it as part of the Caribbean Community foreign policy. Because when the two come together, invariably they are stronger. That is not to say that there are moments where our national interest will not require us to go on our own. And that is right and proper. But wherever we can, we always look to go into the international system with our Caribbean brothers and sisters, because invariably, we're stronger when we do it together.

Rasheed [48:34] Thank you very much, Ambassador Jackman, this has been a very valuable conversation.

Amb. Jackman [48:39] Thanks for the invitation Rasheed, it was a pleasure to chat with you. And really I want to congratulate you again for the great work that you're doing. I would encourage you to keep the podcast series going and to broaden the scope of your investigations into the world of China-Caribbean relations. If there's anything that I can do to help you in that endeavor, please consider me to be at your service in this regard.