Chinese may be building thousands of hotel rooms on YAP

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The Rock

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There are resorts built/managed to cater to Western, Japanese and Korean tastes, and now as the Chinese middle class grows resorts will be developed to meet their needs. As China has a population of 1.3 billion, and is not too far from many fine dive areas, I expect that Yap will not be the last……..Need to get a few more places crossed off my list sooner, rather than later.

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This resort is BY FAR NOT a done deal. It is not supported in Yap and the developers have been openly bribing high public officials. They are a bunch of sleezeballs. They have openly stolen images from my books for their promotional use and acknowledge no inttectual property rights. They are attempting to circumvent environmental laws and their business plan, a 4 BILLION dollar investment, makes no economic sense. This "resort" is a front for geo-politics. This is a recent letter to the people from a pastor regarding this disastrous project in Yap:

Vicariate of Yap Office
P.O. Box A, Yap, FM 96943 Telephone: 350-7273
June 24, 2012 (Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist) Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In recent months the people of Yap have become increasingly concerned about a development project submitted to our State Government by a company of the People’s Republic of China called the Exhibition and Travel Group, also known as “ETG”. This development company proposes to build eight to ten hotels by 2015, two to three world-class golf courses, casinos, and other related facilities for tourists from Asia. ETG promises to build enough hotels to give Yap a 10,000 room guest capacity by 2020. In addition, ETG is promising to make infrastructure improvements with respect to our roads, medical facilities, airport capacity, and utilities.
Much of the public concern since mid 2011 has come about because of the lack of information provided to the public or their elected representative in the State legislature. It was not until June 13, 2012 that the Governor’s office formally transmitted to the State Legislature copies of the documents relating to the development of ETG’s project. By then, the following documents had already been signed and issued: (1) a Strategic Framework of Cooperation between Yap State and ETG signed on April 21, 2011; (2) a Memorandum of Understanding between Yap State and ETG signed on October 21, 2011; (3) a Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Pilung and ETG signed on January 12, 2012; (4) a Memorandum of Understanding between the FSM Government and ETG signed on April 26, 2012; (5) A Foreign Investment Permit issued to ETG on June 4, 2012; and (6) A Business License issued to ETG also on June 4, 2012. In addition to these agreements, the Governor’s office has been negotiating with ETG an Investment Agreement that will determine the conditions, responsibilities and liabilities of Yap State and ETG as the project progresses. The Attorney General’s Office is now reviewing the second draft, dated May 8, 2012, of this Investment Agreement.

The State Legislature formally learned of these documents just ten days ago. The lack of detailed information coming from the Governor’s office, even as government and traditional leaders were being flown to China for meetings on the project, has caused concern and anxiety among the citizens of Yap both locally and overseas. The public’s concern has resulted in two resolutions by the State Legislature calling ETG to refrain from further action in Yap State until the legislature has sufficient information to insure that their plans are in the best interest of the people of Yap. Two separate petitions from the people of Yap have also requested that more facts about the process be revealed to the public. While these resolutions and petitions have gone unheeded by Governor’s office, there was a Town Hall meeting on May 8th at which the Acting Attorney General was present to discuss the ETG project. Unfortunately, since the public did not see any details of the project agreements, participants could only ask very general questions and received very vague answers that were not supported by any specific documents.

The Catholic Church raises concern not only for the doubts and anxiety caused by the lack of specific information from the government, but also because this lack of information violates the civil and political rights of the people of Yap to participate in a decision that would change the quality of life and culture on Yap forever. The Church also raises concern over some aspects of the tourism project itself. Let it be known that the Catholic Church is not opposed to the economic development of Yap or the tourism industry. However, when the Church reflects on economic development, it does so in the context of human development. In this context, economic development must serve the development of the entire person, body, mind, spirit and culture. People are more important than material goods or money and any development project needs to be judged not only in terms of the dollar sign, but also with respect to the effect on the human person and life in our communities. While ETG’s promises that their project will bring fast money and economic prosperity to Yap, the Catholic Church is concerned that certain aspects of ETG’s project will harm the quality of life in our communities and lessen our sense of cultural and human dignity.
The Catholic Church has serious concerns about certain aspects of the ETG project:
1. The most obvious concern is the interest ETG has in bringing casinos into Yap. At present gambling is not legal in our State. Is our executive branch entertaining such a project proposal or providing guarantees to ETG that the law will be changed?
The criminal activity that accompanies the casino industry is well documented from the experience of other nations in the Pacific rim that have permitted gambling. This criminal activity includes illegal drug trade, money laundering, prostitution and human trafficking. The proposed casinos will be operated by foreign businesses that ETG calls “Third Party” participants. These businesses are unknown at this time and so it is not possible to perform any background checks on them. And yet ETG insists in the Investment Agreement that these unknown businesses enjoy the same rights as are given to ETG in the Investment Agreement currently under review.

At present the FSM is on the US State Department’s watch list for its inability to legislate or enforce laws that prohibit human trafficking. The Yap public safety department also lacks the manpower or resources to effectively detect or protect against money laundering, illegal drug trade and prostitution. How will our communities and families be protected against these crimes that have repeatedly accompanied the gambling industry even in the most developed nations?
2. A second concern is this project’s impact on the environment. ETG is not being held accountable to an environmental impact assessment by the Governor at this time. The reason for this is that such an assessment requires a detailed Master and Business plan. ETG has admitted that such a plan cannot be drawn up until it knows how much land it can acquire and where this land will be. Under these circumstances, how can the Governor’s office pretend to answer the public’s questions about environmental impacts if it is not possible to do an impact assessment at this time? And yet the Governor’s office proceeds with agreements that gradually increase Yap State’s commitment to ETG’s project.

As the largest construction project in the history of Yap and the FSM, the ETG project is certain to have large-scale effects on all sectors of the environment. For example, the golf courses alone, three of which are initially planned by ETG, will have detrimental effects on the lagoon. Golf courses located in tropical ecosystems require massive amounts of fertilizers, which, when washed off into the lagoon, produce nutrient loads that destroy the fragile coral reef ecosystem and related fisheries. What laws and agreements will there be that will hold ETG responsible for not endangering the reef system on Yap?

3. The project will also require ETG to lease large parcels of land on Yap, a significant portion of which is collectively owned. This will constitute the largest transfer of land use in the history of Yap over a period of just a couple years. For generations land has formed the basis of our social systems for the estates, clans and villages. What will be the social and cultural effects of converting our land into a monetary commodity that is no longer tied to our estates or villages? How will our people deal with the very sudden and rapid loss of this cultural heritage? What will this do to the unity among our families? Will some people in positions of traditional authority profit more than others? Will the pilmingaay and other members of the lower castes benefit from this project equally in an economically just way? In other words, will the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?

4. Finally, it should be noted that the current drafts of the Investment Agreement with ETG provide few details that bind ETG to the infrastructure improvements they first promised. The current agreements hold ETG to very few specific requirements and leave the Church wondering whether the negotiations with ETG are receiving careful thought and deliberate review.
My brothers and sisters, I ask the members of the Catholic Church and of the other Churches on Yap to encourage our elected representatives and public servants to slow down their attempts to approve the ETG project. Hold your public servants accountable to a review of the ETG proposal that is thorough and transparent. We are being asked to risk our cultural heritage and ancestral lands on this project. In light of the considerable and unprecedented scale of this project, the Church maintains that the people of Yap have a right to full and transparent information in all subsequent negotiations with ETG. The people of Yap should not be asked for their approval prior to a complete study on the full social, economic, and environmental impacts of this project. Once appropriate information is provided, I ask each of you to exercise your civil rights to participate fully in this decision that will determined the lives of future generations on Yap – even if this participation requires a plebiscite. Your participation must be based on full, detailed and transparent information, not on vague undocumented assurances or dreams of prosperity decorated with colorful pictures.

In closing, I call on our Governor, our other public servants, and the Councils of Pilung and Tomol to remember the words of our Lord when he said, “Whoever wishes to be the greatest of all must be the servant of all,” because Jesus himself came, “Not to be served, but to serve.” You are chosen to fulfill your duties in the service of our people. The people of Yap have placed their hopes and trust in you.
We call upon you today to have the courage to uphold and protect our civil rights to participate fully in this decision, so that as one people we may determine the future of our children and of our State.

Sincerely in Our Lord, John S. Hagileiram, S.J., Acting Vicar of Yap

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Alert your congressman, your senators and every one else. When the US compact becomes negotiable in 2023, it could well be that China is economically and strategically placed within the central Pacific to cause a lot of instability. This isn't a resort, it is a long-term power play. Again, this isn't a done deal.

Wish the people of Yap luck.

Tim Rock, Guam
 
OP
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jjardin

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Sad to see the US ceding so much influence around the world. Sad to see my tax dollars going to hell hole countries that hate us when we have former US territories, whose people really have an affinity to America, get more from the Chinese than we are willing to give. And how about thinking about how painful we make it to visit Guam or Saipan as a foreign tourist. Talk about shooting ourselves in the ass.
Not to mention the poor people of Yap--where have you seen the Chinese go in and act in the best interest of the local populace? Syria? Tibet? The Yapese are used to neglect--wait until they see real exploitation.
Sad.
 

BluewaterSail

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This makes me so sad. When I visited FSM in the mid 90's on my little sailboat, Yap was closed to visitors without special permission. I don't know when that changed for a large chunk of Yap, but I strongly believe that it should be up to the local people to decide if they want to leap into the modern world or continue to live mostly as their ancestors did. Every example that I witnessed was not a positive step for the indiginous people's quality of life. I hope that the folks in power there are strong enough to turn down the enormous bribes that they are no doubt being offered.
 

The Rock

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This makes me so sad. When I visited FSM in the mid 90's on my little sailboat, Yap was closed to visitors without special permission. I don't know when that changed for a large chunk of Yap, but I strongly believe that it should be up to the local people to decide if they want to leap into the modern world or continue to live mostly as their ancestors did. Every example that I witnessed was not a positive step for the indiginous people's quality of life. I hope that the folks in power there are strong enough to turn down the enormous bribes that they are no doubt being offered.

Anyone wanting to visit the outer Yap islands must get permission from the Council of Chiefs in Colonia. It has never been closed to visitors as I made many trips through these islands in the late '90s and early 2000. But you cannot sail directly to an island without first visiting Colonia for permission to go there. Some sailors find this inconvenient and bypass Yap. But it is a wonderful experience to see this unique culture of star navigators.:cool2: Highly recommended.
 

guamrider

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I've been to Yap twice this year, each time for one week. On the 1st trip there seem to be a lot of “quiet” discussions going on along with the uncertainty of a lot of rumors.

On my 2nd trip a few months later this is what I heard and observed.

When we landed there were 2 Airbus 319 jets parked there, both private corporate planes from China. They had been there for at least 2 days. I met with the flight crews on numerous occasions (over a few drinks at night) and found out that there were two different CEO's and their staff negotiating directly with different village communities and their traditional chiefs. Of course, the flight crews never could or would divulge more than this but they certainly indicated that things were going well by this statement:

“We were told that if things weren't going well we'd be all out of here in 3 days. We're still here and they haven said when we'd be leaving.”

They were there the entire week I was there.

It was quite evident from the many evening talks that I had with the crew (who were not Chinese) that the corporate owners considered Yap nothing more than a play toy to be totally consumed.

I've been going there since 1976 and have watched Yap go through, although quite a bit slower, the same social and technical changes that the rest of the world has gone through. BUT the one thing that has not changed very much is the Yapese recognition that their culture is quite unique in the Micronesian islands and they are still teaching it to their children.

Along with the great diving this retention of their culture is what makes Yap special out here. You see it every day and the weekly dances they put on at various villages have not changed since I've been going there. In other words, they are real and not designed for tourists.

China has over 1million millionaires and 400 billionaires and the Chinese are offering incredibly huge sums of money to the land owners. On an island where the minimum wage is not much more than $1 an hour......well, you do the math.

In my opinion, and quite honestly many of the Yap politicians and directors have the same "silent" opinion, is that once ONE Village agrees to sell to the Chinese the rest will fall like dominoes.

I certainly hope it doesn't happen but I'd give even odds that it will. Yap, and the Yapese people, will become nothing more than a puppet to China.
 

Deep Water Dan

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Nice writeup, Pete. Going to do Yap again in January. At the airport heading to Pohnpei now. Hopefully the Chinese haven't been there yet.
 

Bali Diver

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China has over 1million millionaires and 400 billionaires and the Chinese are offering incredibly huge sums of money to the land owners. On an island where the minimum wage is not much more than $1 an hour......well, you do the math.

In my opinion, and quite honestly many of the Yap politicians and directors have the same "silent" opinion, is that once ONE Village agrees to sell to the Chinese the rest will fall like dominoes.

I certainly hope it doesn't happen but I'd give even odds that it will. Yap, and the Yapese people, will become nothing more than a puppet to China.

I really hope this does not happen,this is typical chinese attitude happening everywhere as well as our oceans being fished out.

It would be very sad if it does go that way
 

snorkymn

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Wow. I had planned on going to Yap next year, but now it sounds like the hotels will be packed with ETG employees and the building and chaos will have started.. Kind of wanted to go to a quiet little island for some nice diving, but that now seems out of the question. How much respect will be paid to the ocean environment while building these new massive resorts? I'm guessing little to none. Forget about diving there it seems.
 
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