Chinese buildings ‘useless’

Wednesday January 10, 2018 Written by Published in Local
Australian Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and her delegation pictured aboard Te Kukupa when she visited Rarotonga in October. Fierravanti-Wells is second from right in front of the Royal New Zealand Navy maritime surveillance advisor to the Cook Islands, Lieutenant Commander Kerry Driver. Speaking to the group is Maritime Commander Tepaki Baxter. 17102405 Australian Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and her delegation pictured aboard Te Kukupa when she visited Rarotonga in October. Fierravanti-Wells is second from right in front of the Royal New Zealand Navy maritime surveillance advisor to the Cook Islands, Lieutenant Commander Kerry Driver. Speaking to the group is Maritime Commander Tepaki Baxter. 17102405

A SENIOR Australian government minister who visited Rarotonga last year has launched a tirade about China’s foray into the Pacific, accusing the Asian superpower of lending funds to island nations on unfavourable terms and constructing “useless buildings” and “roads to nowhere”.

 

International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells told The Australian,  China’s influence in the Pacific was “clearly growing”, but the country’s financial assistance to island nations was resulting in “white elephants”.

“You’ve got the Pacific full of these useless buildings which nobody maintains, which are basically white elephants … I’ve gone to islands and you’ll be driving along on some back road and all of a sudden you see this Chinese road crew building a road to nowhere and you think ‘Hmm, what’s all that about?’” she said.

She also told the publication there was no doubt China was “duchessing” politicians in the Pacific.

In some cases, politicians had directly benefited from development projects.

The Australian reported Cook Island MPs had received free quad bikes as part of a donation of agricultural equipment from the Chinese government in 2015.

Fierravanti-Wells said there were concerns China’s loans to South Pacific nations had unfavourable terms.

There were growing loan applications to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank by Pacific nations, but their terms were clearly set out.

She said: “We don’t know what the consequences are when (nations) have to pay back some of these Chinese loans.”

Fierravanti-Wells said Pacific countries were struggling to maintain donated facilities and some nations were concerned about the use of foreign workers in aid projects.

“Over my visits, I have come across a number of non-productive infrastructure where no provision is made for maintenance and therefore the buildings are not used to full capacity.”

Lowy Institute Pacific Islands programme director Jonathan Pryke told the publication the minister had a legitimate point.

“Any of these projects (and there are quite a few) that have “sport” or “conference” in the description, you can guarantee are not going to get you a return on investment, especially if they are built with a loan.

“The same goes for mammoth government buildings.”

Rarotonga has several buildings constructed by the Chinese, including the Ministry of Justice, the police headquarters, the Bluesky Sports Arena and more recently Apii Nikao, which is nearing completion. The first three have suffered problems due to poor quality materials and construction, and require remedial work. One report put the cost of the repair work at $800,000-plus.

Last year the courthouse steps had to be re-tiled after a lawyer slipped on them and broke his arm. The repair work took many months.

When Fierravanti-Wells visited Rarotonga from October 23 to 25 last year, she met with prime minister Henry Puna to discuss “common interests” in the region, including economic reliance, regional security and climate change.

She also visited a number of local organisations as well as the police patrol boat Te Kukupa.

            - NT News/CS 

3 comments

  • Comment Link I fully support your concerns Fierravanri-Wells as a Ciok Islander born n bred im concerned if Chinas influence in our tiny nation. Its a bit scary for me knowing of Chinas other involvements in world wide issues especily being a Communist country. My pra Friday, 12 January 2018 10:26 posted by I fully support your concerns Fierravanri-Wells as a Ciok Islander born n bred im concerned if Chinas influence in our tiny nation. Its a bit scary for me knowing of Chinas other involvements in world wide issues especily being a Communist country. My pra

    Message

  • Comment Link Thomas Wednesday, 10 January 2018 21:20 posted by Thomas

    Completely agree. Having been to Rarotonga many times since 1996, it's clearly that the CN impact is growing and not necessarily to the benefit of Raro. The Courthouse is a disgrace to the surroundings, to large, tall and in general not a building you associate with an insland in the Southern Pacific. Biuld only what is needed for Raro, not what is needed to keep CN business going. Thanks my take.

  • Comment Link Stephen nichols Wednesday, 10 January 2018 15:24 posted by Stephen nichols

    A hell of a lot of Chinese fishing ships not boats fishing around the waters of Raro WHY????????????

Leave a comment