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NDP discrimination: Visa free access for Chinese, not for CARICOM nationals

- Jamaican, Haitian & Guyanese require Visas to enter VI
Chinese tourists soaking up some tropical sun. Photo: Internet Source
- It was on Thursday, June 21, 2018, that Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Honourable, D. Orlando Smith (AL), announced at a press conference that government intends to implement a visa free policy for Chinese nationals wishing to visit the Territory. Photo: VINO/File
- It was on Thursday, June 21, 2018, that Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Honourable, D. Orlando Smith (AL), announced at a press conference that government intends to implement a visa free policy for Chinese nationals wishing to visit the Territory. Photo: VINO/File
Under the Treaty of Chaguaramus establishing CARICOM—of which the VI is an Associate Member—nationals are granted an automatic six months stay upon entry, visa free. Photo: Internet Source
Under the Treaty of Chaguaramus establishing CARICOM—of which the VI is an Associate Member—nationals are granted an automatic six months stay upon entry, visa free. Photo: Internet Source
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - It was on Thursday, June 21, 2018, that Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Honourable, D. Orlando Smith (AL), announced at a press conference that government intends to implement a 'visa-free' policy, for Chinese nationals wishing to visit the Territory.

He has not however, pushed for the same courtesy for three Caribbean countries, namely Jamaica, Haiti, and Guyana—all  members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Under the Treaty of Chaguaramus establishing CARICOM—of which the VI is an Associate Member—nationals are granted an automatic six months stay upon entry, visa-free.

Some VI residents and critics say, the new ‘visa free’ policy for Chinese nationals,  is in line with the ruling National Democratic Party’s (NDP) track record of discrimination against Caribbean nationals.

NDP hates island people?

The NDP has long been accused of running a divisive government, opening the red carpet for European and American visitors to live and work, while discriminating against locals and Caribbean nationals.

They have also made it harder for persons to become permanent resident, amending the residency requirements to 20 years, when under the Virgin Islands Party (VIP),  it was 10 years. Caribbean residents are most affected.

The NDP is also accused of granting ‘Belonger’ status, to 'lots' of persons ahead of an election, in order to have more persons vote for the party.

There was in fact, a proposal from the Dr Smith Administration, for him to have the power to grant ‘Belonger’ status, without having to go through the Immigration Board, according to information obtained by our newsroom.

Under the NDP, they have doubled fees for Work Permits, visas and immigration services, mostly affecting persons from the Caribbean region.

Opposition growing to decision

The Chinese, visa free announcement, was met with outrage by many in the Territory, including Opposition Leader, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1), who told ZBVI, he “understands each administration has the right to adjust immigration policies, however, why not for our brothers and sisters from the Caribbean who has been here with us for years.” Several residents also took to social media, to express their outrage over the decision.

Radio 'talk show' host, Edmund G. Maduro, declared while he has nothing against Chinese, “it was a bad decision.”  

Mr Maduro, a former Chief Immigration Officer, also questions if Premier Smith, “has the power to make this possible.” 

To justify the unpopular move, Premier Smith—no longer the Chairman of the NDP—said, “…the visa free proposal is aimed at shoring up the Territory’s tourism sector by attracting Chinese tourists to the VI.”

Sign the petition

One resident, Julio S. Henry, has over the weekend started an online petition against the move by Dr Smith.

In his petition, Henry point to concerns over the large influx of Chinese interests, into the British Overseas Territory of the VI, and the negative effects it will have on the development and future of the VI.  

The political and social activist noted in a Facebook post, “…one should carefully examine current Chinese trend(s) around the world,  listen to the cries of the people on the ground and set policies based on knowledge, best practices, fair trade and equal opportunities for your people.”


24 Responses to “NDP discrimination: Visa free access for Chinese, not for CARICOM nationals”

  • voter (26/06/2018, 13:45) Like (14) Dislike (3) Reply
    Ndp must go bottom line
  • BRAD BOYNES (26/06/2018, 14:03) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
  • Welsah (26/06/2018, 14:13) Like (16) Dislike (4) Reply
    Here wondering how our learned brothers and sisters from these islands living in the country feel about this one? Welsah, hear ting.
  • i from here (26/06/2018, 14:29) Like (13) Dislike (8) Reply
    Now the truth came out as to who love or hate Island people
  • wize up (26/06/2018, 14:43) Like (10) Dislike (4) Reply
    us black folks can not offer the politicians any financial services(new vehicles or private villas)..we might have some serious issues up in here because our people are being disenfranchise and I speak about negro people and VI Landers: NOW here is my question who will stand and organise a children and your children will become second class citizens in their own homeland(for a few pieces of silver)....if the money was going towards the ordinary people that might have been well but just a select few continues to profit from these policies: look around after the hurricanes with all these companies making billions through this territory none of them have offered to help us rebuild(look around!!!!)....Shameful conduct
  • please (26/06/2018, 15:02) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
    The London-based Capital Economics report, Creating Value: the BVI’s Global Contribution, indicates that forty-one percent of the BVI’s financial services business or at least 25 cents out of every dollar of the 60+ percent in revenues going into the BVI’s Treasury to support schools, hospitals, roads, infrastructural development and Government salaries among other things, come from China and the rest of Asia. According to the Capital Economics report, China alone (including Hong Kong and Macau) accounts for 35 percent of the global business coming to the BVI. As a services based economy, that makes China the BVI’s most important trading partner and, to be absolutely clear, China is responsible for the most butter on our bread and roofs over our heads. It makes sense to align economically with the country offering more opportunities to invigorate, diversify and grow the BVI’s economy. Investing any type of resources in strengthening the BVI/China partnership is not only strategic, but also basic common sense. The benefits accrue to all - they trickle up, down and across the BVI economy. Offering a travel visa is a joke for this type of commitment to our economy. China can go elsewhere! I know the Orlando Smith Government has failed us, but it does not mean that everything it does should now be looked at as a failure. We still have to pick sense out of nonsense.
  • Why China for Tourism! (26/06/2018, 15:17) Like (23) Dislike (1) Reply
    Countries everywhere are vying for the Chinese tourism market. China is now the largest tourism source market in the world and accounts for 21 percent of the world’s international tourism spending. According to the World Tourism Organisation, in 2012, China became the world's top spender in international tourism and has remained so ever since. In 2016 Chinese made 135 million trips overseas (including for cruises) and spent US $261 billion on their holidays abroad. The BVI is trying to tap into this front too and has applied for Approved Destination Status to be able to market its tourism product in China. To further demonstrate its commitment, the BVI Government recently approved visa-free access for Chinese travelers to the BVI for tourism and business purposes. The United Kingdom itself has already ramped up its efforts and China presence, driving its Great Innovation campaign to secure its share of China’s great economic pie in investment, tourism and financial services.

    Everything the man do is a problem. Doctor Smith just need to come out and leave these Israelites so they can wonder in the wilderness for forty more years. SMDH!
    • tell me (26/06/2018, 16:56) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
      Ok, I understand all of that but how are they going to get here? Tickets will be crazy expensive due to the changing of airports and what will they do once they get here? I've already heard the bvi has nothing to do. No night life or activities you go bathes and beaches and pier park that's it? Take a page from St. Maarten but the bvi mindset is'nt progressive enough so tourism will drop along with the FS
      • @tell me (27/06/2018, 09:42) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        That is not the point. The point is if they want to come, they can do so without a visa. If they can't come, then your problem is solved. So because we are suffering we should not try to encourage tourism still? Really?
  • wize up (26/06/2018, 16:13) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    @ please: all the fu(& you here documenting: 9 months following those hurricanes and this territory still in shambles including the same schools you make reference to: take a look at the government administration complex...there is a very thin line between fact and fiction: I will like you to keep it real: jump on your mule and ride around this territory and with all the stats you on here talking about(the so called money) honest with your self...with all the money on paper people still suffering in this place
    • @wize up (27/06/2018, 09:40) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Then what is the issue? They have the ability to travel and they won't come because we are in shambles, problem solved. The point is they can come if they want without a visa. You are arguing an entirely different issue. My point was solely to why the visitor visa to the Chinese is not a problem. And it is not all Caribbean countries require a visa to get here. The ones that do were placed in that basket for a reason. We like to have selective amnesia
  • ??? (26/06/2018, 16:25) Like (14) Dislike (2) Reply
    Does no VISA mean free access? I’m not getting it. Guyanese and Jamaicans already account for a high percentage of Virgin Islands population, so I’m not understanding the outrage here...People from Tortola don’t require a VISA to go to St. Thomas but does that mean we can take up residence anytime we feel like...?
  • Hmmm (26/06/2018, 16:25) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    Don't forget the Dominican Republic
  • Yes (26/06/2018, 16:29) Like (18) Dislike (7) Reply
    NDP hates Island people ? Really? I thought they hired an Island Man to run the Prison and that was a big problem.. And a lady to run the hospital, etc
  • Political Observer (PO) (26/06/2018, 17:26) Like (15) Dislike (3) Reply
    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Visas are being waived for the Chinese but not for our regional Haitian, Jamaican and Guyanese brothers and sisters. Do Virgin Islanders need a visa to visit China? And if yes, why is the visa requirement not reciprocal? We need to be conscious of the Chinese mirage, for what is seen may not be the real deal. Here is a news flash on the Chinese, the second largest economy in the world but surging.

    The Chinese are flushed with cash and often offer cash starved countries low interest or no interest loans; they do give grants. However, their assistance often require using Chinese equipment, material/goods, labour........etc. They also require relaxed immigration rules for their citizens and support at the UN and other world bodies.

    Moreover, many resource rich yet poor countries (resource curse), ie, many African countries.......etc are coerced into yielding control of mineral and other natural resources to the Chinese.
    • @Political observer (27/06/2018, 09:44) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
      And why do we need to give the Jamaicans, Haitians and Guyanese visa because we give the Chinese. Those countries were on a visa requirement list for a reason. If the Chinese meet the threshold to be on a watchlist, we should do the same thing. Otherwise, this is a foolish argument, except, I agree that it should be reciprocal and I believe that it is.
  • ausar (26/06/2018, 20:19) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
    This government is hateful of island nationals?

    Imposible! If I'm not mistaken, most of the spouses of the ruling party are island nationals.
    The party has just elected its leader whose parents are island nationals.

    ....Nahhh...I want to believe it's all about economics; the new wave of tourists from the East. Remember, financial services is on its death bed and newer forms of revenue streams must be had if the econmic future of this country will remain sound and in the black..

    My only concern is, will their presence here be indicative of the take-over that usually occurs when massive amounts of Chineese citizenry are allowed to populate any given locale
  • zoe (26/06/2018, 20:35) Like (7) Dislike (3) Reply
    Orlando need to hurry retire
  • True (26/06/2018, 20:58) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    Chinese are not flying over here to stay and work and thats exactly what will happen if these 3 countries are allowed visa free entry
  • Welsa (26/06/2018, 22:11) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    I know island ppl living and working here over 17 yrs and is still getting turn down when they apply for exemption even though they stayed and help rebuild after HURRICANE IRMA! So sad for my ppl.....
  • 25NY/[B]VI Strong (26/06/2018, 22:47) Like (31) Dislike (0) Reply

    Coming home to vote for Unity - it’s the only solution for our people. In dedication of Bradley Lettsome of the East Sunrise.

  • VIslander (27/06/2018, 02:50) Like (13) Dislike (3) Reply
    Look! I think we need to get rid of this crab in a barrel mentally here in the Virgin Islands. We all know the decision by the government to exempt Chinese Nationals from a Visa requirement has nothing to do with hating so called Island people, a term which I could never grasp seeing that the VI is a group of Islands. With this said and getting back to the real issue, the decision was probably moreso about economics.

    There is very little doubt that Chinese investors will be among potential foreign investors who will be approached and asked to undertake the TB Lettsome International Airport expansion. Furthermore, it should also be noted that the majority of the financial services business originates from Hong Kong, China. Clearly there will have to be some form of concessions from the BVI government to the Chinese in order to safeguard the economic ties. However, Make no mistake that China is also looking after its own interests and will continue to do so regardless but still, the BVI needs as much foreign investment as possible in order to help maintain financial stability and rebuild post hurricane Irma.

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