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  • By Joyce McClure

Mainland China's ‘sports diplomacy’ money on Yap isn't necessarily good for kids

And plans to produce shrimp on Yap for China offer no jobs for Yapese

Chinese-donated exercise gear in a Colonia park isn't for kids

Meeting a 'crucial' need, China also gifted Yap with13,600 ping pong balls. Photos: Joyce McClure.

Colonia-- A delegation of business and sports officials from Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) arrived in Yap on January 14.

Coming on the heels of Chinese Ambassador to FSM Li Jie, who recently presented a cash donation of $200,000 to Governor Tony Ganngiyan that will provide a volleyball gymnasium for the 2018 MicroGames, the sports officials met with Liyon Sulog, CEO of the 2018 Micro Games, and Ruotpong Pongliyab, director of the Yap Sports Development Office. The visitors toured the Yap Sports Complex to inspect the ongoing construction work and sports equipment previously donated by the Chinese. In addition, they visited schools and other sites with sports equipment that was also donated by the Chinese.

Turns out, that gear in the park might hurt kids who hang out in the park. One site where exercise equipment was hurriedly installed just prior to the delegation’s arrival is in a small park on the waterfront next to the Mantra Ray Resort in Colonia. The equipment had been stored at the Yap Sports Complex where it was showing signs of rust. A team of workers appeared at the park and rushed to install the machines. Large, permanent, metal labels affixed to each piece of equipment state, “Children should not use the equipment…” The park is the central bus transit point for children who are dropped off after school to change from one bus to another. The time in between buses is 30 to 45 minutes. During that time, children use the park and are now climbing and playing unsupervised on the equipment.

The group met with the Department of Resources & Development, the Yap Fishing Authority and Yap Chamber of Commerce to present a proposal by the Guangdong Yifeng Food Co. to build a factory in Yap to raise prawns. Baby shrimp, the delegation members explained, would be imported and grown in ponds in the factory and the mature shrimp would be flown back to China for sale. Projected output was estimated at 30,000 shrimp within the first three years; 100,000 shrimp per year within five years; and 120,000 shrimp per year after six years.

No Yapese would be employed; instead, Chinese workers would be employed to staff the plant. Land for the plant would be leased long-term from local residents since land in Yap is kept in the families and rarely sold.

In recent years, 99-year leases have been given by local land owners to Chinese developers. It has been reported that some families who leased their land are now attempting to void the leases as there is little or no benefit to the owners with money paid out over the 99 years. The owners are also prevented from going onto the land. As a result, the land and beaches have not been maintained and locations are trash-filled eyesores on an island where community members have monthly cleanups and take pride in maintaining the fragile environment and pristine villages.

When asked what the benefit would be to Yap, the response was that there is the “potential that the facility could be modified in the future to handle tuna processing” according to one of the attendees at the meeting.

The two delegations also paid courtesy calls on the Office of the Governor and the Office of the Mayor of Rull Municipality. On the final day, January 16, the sports delegation met with the 2018 Micro Games Organizing Committee prior to attending a reception for the two groups during which there was a formal handover of more donated sports equipment that will be shipped at a later date. Included in the donation are 13,600 table tennis balls, 12 table tennis pitching machines, 178 basketballs, 500 basketball jerseys, 200 skipping ropes, 50 basketball whistles, 100 basketball vests, and 19 basketball air pumps.


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