Banana Pie…who is serving whom

| August 22, 2013
Darby for CaribDirect

Darby Etienne MA Diplomacy

Respect was shown by the President of Taiwan toward the small islands of the Caribbean as he embarked on a one to one diplomacy engagement which started in Haiti and Paraguay. In turn the Caribbean leaders served cultural diplomacy.

The smaller islands of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis rolled out the red carpet for the President of Taiwan, His Excellency, Ma Ying-Jeou on his official visit to the region, an honoured opportunity for the small Islands to showcase Caribbean hospitality. So as the 747 carrying the President descended on each country the ‘Banana Pie’ was hurriedly dished out by the ruling Governments particularly those who were enthusiastically supportive of China, as the bold words on the plane read “CHINA AIRLINES”

Since the end of the Second World War, the ‘creators’ of diplomacy, in other words the selfish capitalists such as the Americans and the British, Australia, Canada have stressed the importance of transfer of knowledge from one nation to another. However, they remain blissful in guarding this ‘creation’ in their tabernacles only keeping our nations locked out as insignificant because of size.  In comparison to all these major powers, including China, Taiwan has always maintained its commitment to improving the skills of Caribbean people with a caveat of continuity and perseverance.


China-airlines. Photo courtesy

Today, hundreds of Taiwanese cooperatively serve within the public administrative systems of Caribbean Governments. And so, one of our aspirations must be towards improving language skills, some of us are sleep walking into becoming nations who speak imperialist English, watch Spanish owned television channels’ adverts and Chinese programmes.

So, in recognition for their show of resilience in the wiliness to overcome interpersonal cultural attitudes, social differences and even local political issues, we should consider bridging the language barrier. While parading on a global stage the outcome is not getting lost in translation. It is inspiring when, in 2013 Ms Cleisha-Bernise Una Springer, a Caribbean student in Taipei won the top prize in Chinese history and classic poems, however, where is the trickle down of language based learning for employability in the Caribbean region. Thereby a reciprocal niche in education and global sustainable development along the lines of diversity without compromising identity is highlighted…

Further, ever since the Kuomintang party of Taiwan won a second term in office there was an unspoken code of change in foreign policy.  China and Taiwan agreed not to swap dirty linen publicly when it came to diplomatic relationships with different countries outside their domain. To quote an old proverb, ‘when the elephants are fighting, it is the grass that suffers’. These infamous political swaps between China and Taiwan, though confusingly dangerous for the benefiting developing nation, were becoming quite amusing to the rest of the world.

Photo courtesy

‘when the elephants are fighting, it is the grass that suffers’ Photo courtesy

We in the region are educated within an aspirational and gifted society and therefore our social relationships and sense of gratitude need to express our learning. We now have political friends in Taiwan / China for the decades of financial and technical investments in the development in the Caribbean and Latin America. The consumption of ‘Banana Pie’ eaten was testament of peace and stability between China and Taiwan. Caribbean leaders take note.

The region should be happy now that policy has changed although some governments still try making a political issue about which Caribbean countries are aligned to which of the two South East Asian countries serving the region.

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