President Adama Barrow’s protocol and communication team failed to prepare him for his visit to China. Unoriented with East Asian geopolitics, the president caused an unintentional embarrassment.
Barrow was a real estate developer and never held political office. Although he has improved and became more confident, he is still adjusting and learning fast.
But when asked about the one-China policy and The Gambia’s interest in backing Beijing, Mr. Barrow’s answers showed he has a very meager understanding of the issue at hand.
“His answers were just so vague, so empty, so disappointing and you could tell from the interviewer’s line of questioning that she was aware our president understood the questions but didn’t know the answers,” said journalist Sheriff Bojang Jr.
Fears are rife that Barrow’s gaffe could be seen as an opportunity for the Chinese to exploit the Gambia and make officials signed deals that are not favorable to the country.
The one-China policy flop aside, Barrow was regarded to have done pretty good and showed sincerity. However, this is not to the standing ovation performance he did at UN General Assembly for a sophomore president.
“Obscured amidst all of the hullabaloo was Barrow’s less than thought-provoking response but sincere performance in response to the other questions,” said former Foreign Minister Sidi Sanneh.
“What his responses, in general, lack in insight, they make up in sincerity and candor – two infrequently utilized but valuable commodities in diplomacy.”
President Barrow has always relied on his advisors for guidance, leaving unhidden the fact that he has limited knowledge of complicated international and geopolitical issues.
At least seven agreements were signed between Beijing and Banjul in last week’s state visit, one of which would see $75 million invested in infrastructure development in the Upper River Region.
China’s President Xi Jinping is insisting that bracing and sticking to the one-China principle is the cornerstone of Gambia’s relations with Beijing, making it apparent it is the principal rule for cooperation and for Banjul to receive benefits.
Jinping reminded President Barrow that the decision by former President Yahya Jammeh to break ties with Taiwan is a “corrective choice” and said so far, relations have yield tangible cooperation results.
China said it will have exchanges in culture, education, media, youth, women, health, and tourism with The Gambia and has pledged to resolve Gambia’s agriculture, electricity, and infrastructure crisis.