As a free and independent country, the Dominican Republic is permitted to establish diplomatic and trade relations with any nation in the world. The United States says it’s extremely worried about exchanges between China and the Dominican Republic. That is its problem.

Establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China was a momentous step. For years, successive Dominican governments avoided the subject with China because of pressure from the United States and difficulties arising from the Cold War.

The power the United States holds over the politics and economy of the Dominican Republic is there for all to see. It has been forged in iron. No one can forget that during the 20th century we were invaded on two separate occasions by American troops. The Americans also propelled that century’s dictators to power.

Since the arrival of the Spanish, the struggle of the native people has been to unswervingly maintain their liberty. Subsequently, Dominicans have been tireless and upright in order to maintain liberty and independence. On Feb. 27, 1844, Haiti’s independence was declared and arms were subsequently taken up against Spanish troops during the Restoration.

Dominican independence has not been a gift without power. It has been earned with blood, sweat and death.

It is up to the government to establish clear positions on the extent of our sovereignty. The Dominican people are clear about their rights and have defended them at all costs. For this reason, we reject any interference that seeks to lessen our free will.

But to be clear, the Caribbean is part of the United States’ strategic security zone. Many say disparagingly that Latin America is its backyard and that it can do whatever it wants with it. We do not agree. No one can dictate codes of conduct to free, sovereign people.

We must continue to further our relations with China and to reject pressure from U.S. government officials and legislators. The Dominican Republic must pursue exchanges with every nation in the world. We cannot shut ourselves in for fear of a telling off from “the empire.”

The economic war between the U.S. and China is not within the Dominicans’ purview. Our struggle is to survive with the technology of the 21st century. We must continue trade relations with China and assert our sovereign right to seek relations with every country in the world.