Samoa’s Faleolo Airport development built with major funding from China
By Rula Su’a – Vaai
APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 8 AUGUST 2018: The government will always put Samoa’s national interests first when it comes to foreign aid pouring into the country.
This is the view of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi in light of the strong economic aid from China in Samoa and the Pacific and recent comments from Australian, New Zealand and the United States political leaders.
“For me personally, we should be open to every opportunity available to us,” said Tuilaepa on last nights’ news interview with Talamua.
“But for Samoa we put our national interests first, develop what benefits Samoa, like our roads, and infrastructural developments but leave geopolitical arguments to the big boys.”
Tuilaepa also made reference to the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Adern’s recent visit with Foreign Minister Winston Peters to Samoa and other Pacific islands.
“Peters made a strong speech against the influence of China aid in the Pacific, but the difference is when China made an offer they take it to the end and finish it.”
He referred to the Australian government’s offer to build a new Parliament building as a gift to Samoa on its 50th independence anniversary. A new government came in shortly after and the project was put on hold.
“Australia made an offer to build Samoa’s Parliament House, and what happen to it, Samoa finished it for them,” said Tuilaepa.
“So that is the difference.”
Australia’s soft opening for the Parliament house is schedule tomorrow with Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs; Julie Bishop expected to announce further funding for the project.
In January this year, Australia’s Development Minister, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells’ comments were directed at Chinese aid in the Pacific referring to “useless buildings” and “roads to nowhere.”
Tuilapea told the Government newspaper Savali, that the comments can damage the excellent existing relationship between Australia and the Pacific countries and particularly Samoa.
“To me as Chairman of the Pacific Leaders Forum, the comments question the integrity, wisdom and intelligence of the leaders of the Pacific Islands to judge what is good for our own people. These types of comments can damage the excellent relationships that exist between Australia and the Pacific Island countries, particularly Samoa.”