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Britain told to follow China's Cricket World Cup lead in helping Caribbean countries

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

LONDON, England (AFP): Legislators have called on the British government to follow China's example and aid countries hosting matches during next year's Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean.

The Chinese are providing what Baroness Valerie Amos, the leader of the House of Lords - Britain's upper house - and a minister in the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, said was "assistance" for World Cup preparations in the islands of Jamaica, Antigua and Grenada.

She also told her fellow peers that India, one of cricket's leading nations, had given a grant towards Guyana's new stadium.

Lord Dominic Addington, a member of the junior opposition Liberal Democrats, said that China had shown "no interest" in cricket in the past and asked what it was aiming to get out of it.

"Should Britain be trying to do some other activities to up its prestige?" he asked during Monday's debate.

Lord John Tomlinson, like Amos a Labour peer, added: "The experience in some of the Caribbean countries - Antigua and St Lucia, where they are refurbishing a sports stadium - (is that), in the battle for hearts and minds, the Chinese certainly appear to be the people's choice."

However, Amos stressed the United Kingdom was already providing some 17.25 million pounds a year in development assistance to nine Caribbean islands and said that Britain would be helping with security aspects of the 2007 cricket showpiece event.

Amos, herself born in Guyana, said: "China is seeking to exert greater influence in certain parts of the world, including in the Caribbean region and in many countries in Africa."

She added: "I hope that that is not the way UK assistance for the Caribbean is being viewed by young people and by the wider population.

"It's fine to give support to build a stadium. But those countries will then have to sustain those stadia over a number of years."

Caribbean Net News