PACIFIC – Tongan, Samoan and Maori are among 11 new language courses to be offered at a university in Beijing. The Beijing Foreign Studies University said the new programmes were to boost support for China’s ties with Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean, Africa and eastern Europe. China has ties with these regions under its so-called Belt and Road initiative which aims for more investment and infrastructure in ancient trade routes. The Shanghai Daily reported an official with the university Guo Wei saying the university was helping to equip more students with language skills and knowledge of regional affairs to meet the demand. The paper reported the university had 84 language majors and plans to increase it to more than 100 in 2020, covering all countries that have diplomatic relations with China.
WORKERS TO SUE OVER REDUCED HOURS
AMERICAN SAMOA – The American Samoa governor’s office has been notified it faces a lawsuit if it goes ahead with plans to cut workers’ hours. The suit concerns contracted employees, who may be affected by government plans to cut working hours to seven hours each day, down from eight. KHJ News reported the person threatening the action was taking a stand on principle. The argument is that a signed contract specified an employee’s terms of employment, including hours and compensation and the government cannot take a unilateral action to set this aside. The government wanted the cutbacks because of uncertainty surrounding federal funding.
SAMOA SEAFARERS TOLD TO BEHAVE
SAMOA – Seventy young men from Samoa are heading to Europe to work on vessels owned by Italy’s Mediterranean Shipping Company. Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has urged the young sailors, who would be working on cruise and cargo ships, to save money for their families and not spend it on alcohol and other entertainment. Tuilaepa reminded them many Samoan seafarers had lost their jobs in the past because of alcohol-related incidents. Tuilaepa said, in a farewell speech, it was the seafarers would be paid US$1300 a month. Those re-hired stood to receive $US1600 a month. He said the strong US dollar would mean a doubling of their earnings in Samoan currency.
stars join obamas at the brando
FRENCH POLYNESIA – Former US president Barack Obama has reportedly been joined by a number of American celebrities during his holiday in French Polynesia. Tahiti Nui TV reports Obama and his wife Michelle have been joined by talk show celebrity Oprah Winfrey, singer Bruce Springsteen and actor Tom Hanks. The Obamas have reportedly been on the luxury yacht belonging to the head of Oracle Larry Ellison. The holiday party was off Huahine and Raiatea and is said to sail via Bora Bora to Tetiaroa where Obama spent three weeks at the world’s top resort, The Brando. The Washington Post has reported that Barack is working on his White House memoirs while at the Brando. On Sunday, Tahiti television revealed photos of Michelle Obama paddleboarding while the Barack swam in the resort’s lagoon.