In a January 2018 article of The Diplomat they describe that,”as relations between the United States and Latin America appears to be deteriorating under the Trump administration, China is actively embracing Latin American and Caribbean countries.” In fact the significance of Chinese relations in the region is such that there was much ado about a diplomatic faux pas when the Trinidad Prime Minister appeared to misunderstand that no invitation was extended to a meeting in China last November.
As we mark the start of the Chinese New Year, we must recognize Prime Minister William Marlin; as international diplomat par excellence, to have negotiated the amazing feat of the signature honour of hosting the Belt Road Forum in Sint Maarten in July 2018. In case you have not been paying attention the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s flagship diplomatic project and it is no small honour to host this summit.
In 2017 the BRF served as China’s highest profile diplomatic event of the year, culminating in the 30 world leaders in attendance signing on to a joint communique. In his keynote address President Xi’s pledged to further boost funding for the project.
Prime Minister William Marlin will have the signature honour of having brought the world to Sint Maarten, and presented us with an unprecedented opportunity to showcase this pristine paradise. Marlin could not have known that Sint Maarten would have faced a catastrophic Hurricane in September last year, nor that ship jumpers would betray his coalition. But in a strange twist of fate, this initiative of Prime Minister William Marlin; who elected to resign after successfully getting Sint Maarten off the ground following Irma, will see Marlin’s negotiating of hosting the Belt and Road Forum stand to yield extraordinary high levels of tourism, media coverage, prestige, and the added impact of a significant economic boost for the host country (SXM).
Now how can Leona Marlin Foreign Relations measure up given her albeit bankrupt notion of bypassing the Governor and going to the Hague like a neophyte to find about aid or every other thing under the sun. She can not measure up to the benefit derived by Prime Minister William Marlin attending the One Belt, One Road Forum for International Cooperation in China in May last year and being instrumental in negotiating for Sint Maarten to be the destination to host the forum in July 2018. Prime Minister William Marlin enjoyed the distinction as the only Head of State from the Caribbean to be invited to the forum, also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and, Chinese President Xi Jinping and representatives of some eighty organizations including the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
William Marlin now has a responsibility to educate Sint Maarten from the North and South on the expected volume of visitors expected, from world leaders, head of international agencies, technocrats, international press, security and much more. Marlin owes a duty to tell his people how they can benefit from the most significant expected economic boost this July. Citizens will have to prepare themselves to seize the opportunities to meet the needs for transportation, arts and entertainment, food service, translation services especially easy for our multilingual Sint Maarteners, as well as tour guides and so much more.
We are certain in this Chinese New Year that China is hoping that Sint Maarten can install a Prime Minister who can step into the large shoes that Marlin leaves, as a multi lingual astute statesman and skilled negotiator in the region, normally selected by the Hague to represent the countries of the Kingdom.
It is now for Sint Maarten to elect the government that will take them forward at the most critical juncture in this young country’s development