China-funded road project in Pohnpei seals FSM's 'friendship' with Beijing

From left, Chinese Ambassador Huang Zheng and FSM President David W. Panuelo hold a photo of the newly completed road project in Madolenihmwand. Pohnpei Gov. Reed B. Oliver joins ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept.17, 2021..Photo courtesy of FSMIS

By Joyce McClure

The Federated States of Micronesia and China have marked the completion of the $14.3 million Beijing-funded road project in Pohnpei, which the communist government claimed was donated with no strings attached.

“Please extend to my dear friend His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of China that Micronesia says thank you,” FSM President David Panuelo said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 17. “We share the same values as China in extending peace, friendship, cooperation, and ‘building a community with a shared future for humankind.’”

With assurance that “our assistance to the FSM is selfless and without political preconditions,” Huang Zheng, Chinese ambassador to the FSM, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Pohnpei Secondary Road and Kahmar Bridge Project in Pohnpei on June 26, 2019.

The project is now finished and the Sept. 17 ceremony heralded the milestone that involved six sections of roads in Madolenihmw and a new bridge in Nett.

During the initial groundbreaking in 2019, Huang said, “As a Chinese saying goes, ‘if you want to get rich, build your roads first.’ Transportation infrastructure is crucial to the economic and social development of a nation.

The FSM has many favorable natural endowments for its development, however, subject to poor infrastructure, a fair amount of its economic potential cannot be fully tapped.” However, a photo that accompanied the latest press release announcing the completion of the project is of China Rail Construction Corp. workers causing some on Facebook to question if any local workers were employed and whether Pohnpei-based construction firms were subcontracted for the project in light of t