Taiwan News reports the president is planning to visit all six Pacific island countries which recognise Taiwan – Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu and Kiribati. The Pacific island countries make up a significant bloc of the 21 countries worldwide which recognise Taiwan. Earlier this month the Fiji government closed its trade office in Taipei. The office was seen as a defacto embassy for Fiji which – along with most Pacific island countries – recognises the People’s Republic of China.
NZ GIFT TO BOOST SAMOA TOURISM
SAMOA – New Zealand is to contribute US$5.15 million dollars to help boost tourism in Samoa. The New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, who is in Samoa for its 55th anniversary of independence, said helping to develop the tourism industry was a way to strengthen the bond between the countries. He said enhancing tourism would increase economic growth and improve livelihoods in Samoa. The funding will supplement work to upgrade the Apia waterfront, help redevelop the Savalalo Market, revamp the central Apia event space and build a clock-tower boulevard. English said Samoa had an enormous amount to offer international visitors.
ASBESTOS SCARE SHUTS DOWN PROJECT
FIJI – The Fiji government has shut down work on the renovations of the Suva Civic Centre after concerns about asbestos. The Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate, said the closure followed an assessment from Pacifica Environmental Services and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP). The minister said the SPREP report identified that the bulk material tested was 30 per cent asbestos but it was not airborne. Usamate said the Suva City Council had now cordoned off the surrounding areas, would hire a consultant to immediately undertake air sampling and would wash down surrounding buildings. The minister has called on people not to panic as the chance of air contamination was low due to the containment work already undertaken. He said people should avoid travelling near the Civic Centre.
FIJI TENNIS PLAYER IN CRITICAL CONDITION
FIJI – Fiji tennis star William O’Connell is in critical condition in hospital in the United Kingdom. The 24-year-old was rescued after a fire engulfed his student accommodation in the middle of the night. The Lautoka-born left hander represented Fiji at the Pacific Games and Pacific Oceania in the Davis Cup in 2013 and 2016. Oceania Tennis said their thoughts and prayers are with O’Connell and his family during an incredibly difficult time.