FSM Transportation Secretary Carlson D. Apis and Chinese Ambassador Huang Zheng sign the contract for the construction of a new H-2 vessel Oct. 15, 2020. Photo courtesy of FSM Information Service
Palikir, Pohnpei — The Federated States of Micronesia and China have sealed an agreement for the construction of a new passenger-cargo vessel for Yap, replacing the aging MV Hapilmohol-1 (H-1) that is currently lying idle at the dock in Colonia.
FSM Transportation Secretary Carlson D. Apis and Chinese Ambassador Huang Zheng signed a contract for the project during a meeting on Oct. 15.
The deal has been closed despite repeated pleas from Yap Gov. Henry Falan to be included in the discussion.
In a letter dated Sept. 24, Falan reiterated his earlier recommendation for the national government to collaborate with Yap on finalizing a plan "to acquire a most suitable" passenger-cargo vessel from Japan, instead of China.
According to a press release from the FSM Information Service, the new 600-ton cargo ship is expected to sail to Yap within 390 calendar days. It has a designed cruising range of no less than 2,500 nautical miles, and the endurance of the vessel is to be no less than 15 days.
Under the contract, upon the conclusion of its one-year warranty period, China will be responsible for dispatching four technicians to the FSM each year to carry out a 14-day technical inspection on the ship’s maintenance for four consecutive years.
In his remarks, Apis reiterated the FSM’s appreciation to China "for their continuing support to assist the nation in its development efforts, and praised Ambassador Huang for his dedication toward continuously strengthening the FSM-China great friendship."
Apis said the ship project came after China's completion of the Kahmar Bridge and secondary roads in Madolenihmw.
“This ship has been a long awaited project. As you know, we are a country of islands spread out over more than one million square kilometers, making transportation a challenge as well as a priority," Apis said. "So we thank you for this project…and look forward to the 13 months from now where, perhaps in November 2021, I will be there to join you in receiving the ship in Yap with the governor and leadership of Yap."
Huang said the ship project represents the full implementation of "the important consensus" reached between China President Xi Jinping and FSM President David W. Panuelo during a meeting in Beijing on Dec. 13, 2019.
The two leaders, Huang said, agreed "to jointly pursue the Belt & Road Initiative of building a community with a shared future for humanity."
“This ship will play a very important role to improve transportation for the FSM. Ships connect people, because transportation connects people, and that’s exactly the idea of the Belt & Road, to connect people,” Huang added.
Huang said China’s assistance, which had been extended based on FSM's requests and priorities, came without any political or financial conditions attached.
“I will say that the sky is limit for our Great Friendship,” Huang said. “I hope that more ships will come and more roads will be built and more projects will be implemented on the principles of mutual respect and mutual benefits…. I really think that this ship will bring tangible benefits to the people of Yap, to the FSM, and to our great friendship based on the bedrock of One-China policy.”
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