Ambassador Wang and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi in front of the friendship plague
BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA: MONDAY 09 NOVEMBER 2015: Forty years to the 6 of November 2015, the People’s Republic of China and the Samoan Government opened a $33 million School of Maritime Training & Marine Research Campus at Mulinu’u as the latest landmark in the celebration of 40 years of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
China’s Ambassador to Samoa His Excellency Wang Xefeng said China has committed to assist and support Samoa and will continue to strengthen not only their diplomatic ties, but to support Samoa’s development programmes.
The Ocean Campus of the National University of Samoa will focus on Marine and Maritime Training of Samoa’s future seamen and will also be used as a centre for scientific research.
The opening late in the afternoon was a precursor to the evening ceremonies at the Chinese Embassy at Vailima to commemorate the 40th anniversary and the Samoan dignitaries led by the Head of State, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, who himself signed the diplomatic relations between the two countries back in 1975 when he was the Prime Minister.
A controversial decision back then, the Samoan churches were critical and suspicious given the propaganda and the cold war at the time.
“This beautiful and classic campus is a new landmark for our 2 country’s friendship,” said Ambassador Wang, who a few hours earlier, had dedicated the Loto Taumafai Centre for the Disabled also funded by China.
He said China has showed willingness in facilitating further maritime, tourism and international trade, and variety of research and strengthen development trade, agriculture, economic and infrastructure partnership with the Pacific.
“This unique building will be used for conducting search on ocean study and has a better access not only to teaching facilities but for training which will be in line with international standards of maritime,” said Ambassador Wang.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi acknowledged the support and assistance from China and he hopes that the campus will produce more future sailors.
“I hope this new campus will nurture more high quality service in maritime operation, and create shipping line services between China and Samoa.
“The $33 million campus is a significant milestone achieved by NUS in the past 31 years and this is an accomplishment for the Government in recognition of the value of such project,” said Tuilaepa.
In 2009 after the closure of the maritime school at Toloa, Mulifanua, NUS council approached Government for a land to establish a Maritime School which Government granted in 2011 and then handed the NUS proposal to the Cabinet’s Development Committee.
The proposal was submitted to China in 2012 and on the same year, China International Design and Consult Ltd visited Samoa and met with the NUS council to discuss the proposal and identify various architectural aspects of the project.
Work commenced in March 2013 and completed twenty months later.
According to data provided, more than 400 Samoan students from the school of Maritime have spread their wings internationally and are now employed by big shipping companies overseas.
“Some in the tourism area and others on container ships,” said Tuilaepa.
He wished all students that go through this campus to utilise the opportunities well and make use of the state of the art facility to do more research.
He also encouraged other government ministries to work in partnership with Maritime Centre in doing scientific research not only to help compact climate changes but to revive the dead coastal areas.
Included in the campus is a dormitory for live-in students, a conference room, a computer room, a simulator room, and a small built in wharf for training.
Tuilaepa also used the opportunity to ask Ambassador Wang for a similar campus for the police academy.
Both Tuilaepa and Ambassador Wang officiated the unveiling of the plague that commemorated a special bond between the 2 countries.
“I wish all student of the maritime school a good sailing and prosperous voyage for Samoa and China,” said Ambassador Wang.