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Governor Ganngiyan And His Delegation Return Home From Week-long China Visit

Yap State News Brief

11/13/2015

YAP, FSM (OGov/Civic Affairs) — Governor Tony Ganngiyan and his 12member entourage returned back home last Saturday evening on November 7, 2015, after a ten day trip to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The visit came by way of diplomatic invitation back in late July, 2015 by the PRC’s new residing Ambassador in the FSM,His Excellency Li Jie.

Ambassador Li during his first state visit in June, 2015 offered general assistance to the State, pledging to send two teams from the Province of Guangdong to Yap. The first team that arrived in Yap in August, 2015 was a group of professionals/officials with the Guangdong Friendship Association and Zhongshan City comprising of representatives in health, education, sports, chamber of commerce and other sectors. The group from the Zhongshan Municipal Government also donated other goods to the Ulithi high school following the devastation of Typhoon Maysak.

Shortly after this first team, a second team of ten medical experts also visited Yap in August and performed specialized medical services to many patients over two days before their departure.

Ambassador Li in his follow up communication invited Governor Ganngiyan to visit China for several diplomatic purposes, including for commercial business and other related matters beneficial to the State of Yap. Governor Ganngiyan took up Ambassador Li’s kind offer and hand-selected individuals he felt would make use of the lessons learned on the trip upon return to Yap to further improve economic, social and cultural relations with the PRC. The governor’s official delegation comprised businessman and Chairman of the Yap State Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Thomas Fetan; Mr. Simeon Waathan, Rull Municipal Mayor, and; Mr. Sebastian Tamagken, Chief of Media and Protocol as Attache` to the delegation.

In return, Mr. Thomas Fetan invited more of the Chamber of Commerce’s active members to partake in the event with the same intent as the governor’s—that is, to return with something in mind and heart to implement for the people of Yap in the commercial area. Surprisingly eight other YCC (Yap State Chamber of Commerce) members enthusiastically and willingly joined the governor’s delegation, making up the entire delegation of 12 persons inclusive of Governor and his other 3 official members.

The governor’s delegation members were as follows: the Hon. Tony Ganngiyan, Mr. Simeon Waathan, Mr. Thomas Fetan, Mr. Sebastian Tamagken, Mr. George Torwan, Mrs. Mercy R. Fetan, Ms. Sara N. Fillmed, Ms. Marie Laamar, Mr. Emmanuel Banua, Mr. Peter Garamfel, Mr. Yang Gang and Mr. Jeffrey Adalbai.

Initially, the main purpose of the visit indicated by HE Li Jie was for Yap State to officially visit its sister state, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, in early September, 2015. The sister state relationship was first established in 2010. Unfortunately, due to timing of Yap State’s busy schedule at the time, the visit was postponed to late October, 2015. Though the sister state visit didn’t materialize, the delegation was able to participate in major commercial shows in Guangdong Province, Sichuan Province and finally Beijing—the capital of China, as creatively prepared by both sides in Yap and the PRC Embassy in Palikir.

During the trip, the Mayor of Rull, Mr. Simeon Waathan was able to sign an MOU between Rull Municipality and Zhongshan Municipality in Guangdong Province. Additionally, Mr. Sebastian Tamagken—Governor’s Attache`—was authorized by the Chairman of the Yap Sports Council—Mr. Liyon Sulog—and Governor Ganngiyan to sign for another MOU between the Yap Sports Council and Zhongshan education and sport institution. These two Memorandums of Understanding were first initiated during the Friendship Association visit to Yap back in the summer, 2015.

The governor and his entourage also spent time in Dongguan City, joining the opening of the 2015 Maritime Silk Road Expo and a few hours in Shenzhen with the Luen Thai company, discussing opportunities in fishing and tourism in Micronesia—including Yap State. 

Mr. Samuel Chou of Luen Thai took some time to share the company’s successful expansion over 30 years doing business in the Micronesian region. He shared that when he learned Governor Ganngiyan would be in Guangdong Province, he couldn’t afford to miss the opportunity to show him around Luen Thai and share its success across the region. 

“I lived in Guam and graduated from the University of Guam”, said Mr. Chou, instantly making the delegation feel at home knowing that he had been in the Micronesian region.  

During the meeting, Mr. Chou’s brother-in-law Jerry Tan popped in to say hello toGovernor and the delegation. Mr. Tan also took time to express sincere appreciation to everyone for accepting their invitation and elaborated on the importance of trying to help everyone across the region for a fair “standard living” experience where people can have a decent job that pays standard living expenses in health, education and puts food on the table. A classic example would be to improve compensation level for government and private sector workers, and other related matters. 

Prior to departing from Guangdong Province to Sichuan Province, Governor Ganngiyanhad the opportunity to join numerous multilateral meetings, including one between the Guangdong provincial leaders, the Kingdom of Tonga Prime Minister and Mr. David Morris, PT&I Trade Commissioner of the Pacific Islands Forum office in Beijing, to discuss potential businesses across the South Pacific and in the Micronesian region inclusive of Yap State. In a similar fashion, a special bilateral meeting was set out between Yap State and the Zhongshan Municipal Government leaders in Zhongshan City, where the Governor took time to thank Zhongshan for their willingness to work locally with Yap State—hence the two signed MOU’s at hand. In most of cases, the proximity of Yap State to the Asian countries appeared to be the underline of topics.

During his short visit to Sichuan Province, Governor Ganngiyan had the opportunity to meet with the local Department of Foreign Affairs and other provincial officials.  He also met briefly with Mr. Deng Hong—Chairman of the Exhibition & Travel Group (ETG) in the Sichuan capital of Chengdu. Apparently, Chairman Deng has been busy continuing his tourism business across China with full government support. A two hour tour was provided to the governor and his entourage to a newly built ETG 400 room hotel next to a man-made lake with beautiful scenery with no sign of environmental damage, as noted by one of the YCC member. This model was one of the proposed feasible models by ETG for Yap State back in 2012.  

“I am very happy to see you in my hometown”, Chairman Deng told the Governor. “We are still hopeful we can continue [to] do business from where we have been up to now. I fully understand that some are skeptical of our ideas, but we don’t wish to force any issue. I am fully aware as well that despite how we put it, there are those who have made up their minds against ETG regardless”, Chairman Deng commented.

Some members of the delegation finally understood the normal pitch of everyday business, where the ETG first verbally pitched high with their numbers of rooms; but instead of catching it and bringing it to a fair ground, people threw fits and called it a foul play without understanding that the game was in their hands the whole time.

In conclusion to the brief acquaintance, Chairman Deng and his CEO, Mr. Liu showed the governor and entire group around two of their famous establishments—namely the Inter-Continental Hotel and the largest building in the world, the “Global Center”. The size of the Global Center is 80,000 square meters on the ground with a transparent roof, which covers the entire arena with a man-made beach that has lively waves splashing on shores and a huge shopping mall along the east side of the center. Contained within the Global Center are various commercial businesses with guests from across the world. After the closing of the event, a majority of the Yap Chamber of Commerce members stated that “ETG and any business in general don’t need us, but ‘maybe’ we do if we are really serious”. According to other statements by other YCC members, what they witnessed was not only sustainable, but conducive to Chinese tradition and custom with every project entailing a “village town” model to display daily cultural events for the tourists. The local performers performed Sichuanese culture on a daily basis for a comfortable living salary. 

The next stop for Governor Ganngiyan was in Beijing, where he was welcomed by the Hon. Jackson Soram, acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the FSM Embassy in Beijing, and had the opportunity as well to meet with the CEO of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to discuss a potential soft loan to the FSM and other developing countries across the globe. The FSM Embassy Acting DCM accompanied the governor and entourage to the meeting where they assured the CCECC that Yap was keen to get a soft loan application to the FSM national government and hoped that it would be pressing enough to gain the blessings of the President and the FSM Congress to secure such a loan. 

On the last day, the delegation took a short tour to the renowned Great Wall of China and spent a bit of time with the FSM Embassy officials at a hosted banquet by the embassy that evening. The FSM Embassy in Beijing made it possible for the governorto also meet and have supper with a few of the Yapese students who are studying in China and had free time to meet the delegation during the short two day visit in Beijing. 

Governor Ganngiyan delivered several remarks and speeches to the provincial government leaders in both Guangdong and Sichuan Provinces, where he underscored the importance of friendship and political developments (copy of speeches are available at the Governor’s Office). 

The Governor at the beginning of the tour to China held an orientation meeting with the group and stressed the importance of re-strengthening the friendship relationship, to learn what China was all about with a view to turning it into a positive and productive platform for all. 

They must refrain from the nay-sayers and be open minded to what the world had to offer. “We are not a communist government, yet we can very well be with how things have been lately”, reaffirms Ganngiyan.  It was his hope that after returning, the Rull Municipality and the YCC could further business interests with direct access to some of the renowned Chinese companies and take advantage of the relatively close proximity between China and Yap. More into Governor’s sentimentit was obvious how Yap has nothing to offer much in return except its unique destination with tradition and customs. But these can be easily passed away as fast if they fail to cultivate it by migrating out of Yap on every outbound flight. 

“Language is our culture. By trend we are losing out on that due to migration and replacement of immigrant workers. We migrate to find job opportunity that our own local government does not afford on its own or availing it through private sector. But when they do, we tend to abandon it for immigrants to take over, so we freelance in foreign world and pay taxes to somebody else’s system hence how easy we lose our language and the pride that comes with it”, Ganngiyan stated.

“That said, it is my hope that after our return, we can all work together with the rest of our State Leadership to strengthen our local system and give the needed standard living opportunity our people deserve and at the same time maintain who we are as Yapese through our unique tradition and custom what most are eager to pay millions to come and see”, concluded the governor.

Both Chairman Fetan and Mayor Waathan assured their concurrences with theGovernor and shared the same sentiments with him prior to the trip, during and at the closing in Beijing. YCC members pleaded with the Governor for a moving forward approach, one that provided a meaningful address to the stagnant economy of Yap. While there is much opposition to the current proposal by the Administration in the tourism industry, there hasn’t been one better alternate offer to be considered. 

Upon returning this week, the MOU’s entered into by the Rull Municipality and the Yap Sports Council with the Zhongshang Municipality seems to be of a good start and avenue to provide more opportunities for the people now and in the future, according to the delegation members.

The governor also shared that he was hesitant to publicly announce the trip before it took place and make this undertaking significant unlike other official trips to different countries, citing the local saying that expressed this sentiment, “dam weliy e yaen rom nga maday, are mu par u uboch”. In other words, talk about your accomplishments after, not before. 

The governor also wanted to ensure other key players behind the scene be acknowledged and recognized for their voluntary time and efforts in making the entire trip a success. Mr. Kevin Yingshi Zhang of Shenzhen, who provided his personal company vehicles to accommodate a leg portion of the trip on the ground. Additionally, Mr. Yang Gang of the Yap-ETG Office who was also part of the delegation as a regular YCC member, but ended up going out of his way to act as a liaison on many occasions to the delegation.  Lastly, the two private companies namely Luen Thai and ETG-Chengdu for their willingness to welcome and host the delegation during the official visit. 

The trip was co-sponsored by the local government and the PRC Embassy in Palikir, where three slots in the delegation were fully covered by the Chinese government with airfare and lodging and the rest were self-paid with partial assistance for lodging and accommodation. Governor Ganngiyan covered his full airfare and contributed in part to ground transportation including, but not limited to other logistical expenses incurred by the group during the trip.

 

Resource: Yap State News Brief, 11/13/2015

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