China more flexible than NZ, says Samoa’s PM
Wed, 01 Aug 2012 6:33p.m.
By Michael Morrah
The Government has put $5 million towards improving education in Samoa as part of a gift to mark 50 years of friendship.
New Zealand signed a treaty of friendship in 1962 when Samoa gained independence, but despite the close relationship Samoa’s prime minister says China remains a more flexible partner.
John Key is considered a chief in the tiny village of Poutasi and he was welcomed in a ceremony befitting such a title.
“Its lovely to have that traditional ceremony and to thank them and to express our good will,” says Mr Key.
New Zealand aid money was used to build a community hall after the tsunami destroyed much of the village, and New Zealand spends $23 million on development projects in Samoa annually, a fraction of the sum that China forks out.
Samoa’s prime minister says China is more flexible in the way it gives money - it has already agreed to requests for the cash to build government buildings.
“If we don't approach them they won’t give us anything, this building at the time cost about $30 million,” says Samoan Prime Pinister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi.
But there's concern at the level of Chinese influence in Samoa and what it means for future generations.
“My concern is the ownership of land, everything else is fine they can bring all the money in here, lease the land, build hotels, but let’s protect the land for the people of tomorrow because it’s a limited amount,” says New Zealand/Samoa citizen’s rights advocate Arthur Anae.
Mr Key doesn’t think China's presence here diminishes New Zealand’s importance, he says we have a rich history and that will continue for the next 50 years.
The Samoan government also hopes its relationship with New Zealand will lead to trades people from Samoa being used in the Christchurch rebuild.
Mr Key says the extra workers may be useful and it hadn't been ruled out.
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2/08/2012 10:55:44 a.m.
Samoa is not a developed country like New Zealand and Australia...we need all the help we can get..Our PM is doing a good job attracting Aid from any nation that could provide...by the way that was the whole reason why Foreign Aid was first introduced after WWII by America..it was to gain support of other nations whom they're giving aid to. So the concept is still very much the same today except China is now a big player!..
2/08/2012 8:01:44 a.m.
Samoa will always be dependent on foreign aid. No doubt China is seen as more flexibble becuase it meets every request for money from Samoa. It's called buying friends, even if it' a quasi-democratic bannana republic.
1/08/2012 10:06:12 p.m.
Beware the hand that feeds
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