Friday, August 29, 2008

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao shakes hands with Prime Minister Somare at the opening of the First Ministerial Conference of the China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum in Nadi, Fiji, April 5, 2006. Somare described the relationship between the island countries and China as "sincere and friendly.” [Xinhua Photo]

Oceania still plagued by "big boy" politics
By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

THERE is understandably a great deal of cynicism about politicians in every country. Their reputation is probably now lower than that of any other profession because they have so often been exposed as liars and/or as corrupt.

In Oceania, from slaughtering pig to dishing out cash money to potential voters is the new found concept, completely debases the original notion of island “big manship” or “wantokism”.

When the National Alliance (NA) Party in Papua New Guinea (PNG) took power, it did so because the electorate had become aware of the modern politics and globalization trend after the populace merely survived on the brink of a dollar or less per day.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare promised a new era in politics, but it soon became clear that NA politicians were just as interested as their predecessors in the trappings and perks of politics, from chauffeur-driven cars to ministerial residences and luxury travel.

They were also just as hypocritical. Like their predecessors they were happy to pull strings for their friends.

They did not like the fact that their private lives were open to public scrutiny and, as their predecessors had done, did all they could to smear their critics.

What is evident today in PNG, and island politics is that every politicians with their cohorts fight out legal battles, even to the extent of deflating their personal accounts to retain the “power”, that they see as the harbinger for personal gain.

Questions always arise. Is it their birth right to fight legal battles to hold on the mandate given by people?

Politicians and bureaucrats are so selfish, power hungry and will never show any remorse by stepping down when implicated for alleged corruption.
Let’s get some perspective in order.

In early 2007, there were concerns over the handling by Prime Minister Somare of a defence board of inquiry, established to investigate the illegal removal of the fugitive Julian Moti from PNG to Solomon Islands.

After implicated in the inquiry, the Prime Minister pressured the defence minister into dissolving the board of inquiry, sacked him and later appropriated his portfolio, thereby gaining control over the contents of the relevant report.

The Grand Chief is respected for his fervent stand on the principal of democracy in PNG, the region and the world. But his action is contradictory! There are other inquiries that he aborted or procrastinated to date.

The story does not end at the highest office. Allegations that Timothy Bonga, the recycled MP for Nawaeb and made the chairman of the Powerful Public Accounts committee should also step down from his office while the investigation into an alleged US$30 million diplomacy exchange with Taiwan, (renegade province of Great China) is underway.

Diplomat Dr. Florian Guban is also included in this serious allegation that would have jeopardized the sovereignty of PNG.

Media reports revealed that the Taiwanese vice Premier Chiou I-jen allegedly involved in the bid to win PNG’s favor, has announced his willingness to resign from the ruling party.
“My role in the scandal has made me deeply ashamed in the face of our nation and our people,” Mr. Chiou said.

Sir Michael Somare had known the former water chief Mr. Bonga and diplomat Dr. Guban, and this commentary concludes that Sir Somare has knowledge of this shameful scandal. But will they all resign from their respective posts to save the reputation of PNG?

Politicians in PNG have lost the ability to feel ashamed over allegations of stealing and misappropriation. Incidents like the NPF inquiry, the Julian Moti affair, the Taiwan scandal, the US$40 million saga in Singapore and the Kerema and Madang BSP branch robberies hint at systemic corruption, which will affect PNG’s regional and international standing.

Bulolo MP Sam Basil said in Lae recently, “… I am a bit saddened to see these people, who have exhausted their vision and still around, running the country. In my view, you cannot teach old dog new tricks. With the advance of globalization, economics, trade, we need to have leaders who are focused on those issues and take the country from here and move forward.”

Finland, Denmark, and New Zealand are perceived to be the world's least corrupt countries, and Somalia and Myanmar are perceived to be the most corrupt, according to the 2007 annual survey by the Berlin-based organization Transparency International (TI).

TI states that PNG had significantly improved its rating. Samoa, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands do not have serious corruption problems compared to Oceania’s largest island country with abundant natural resources, PNG.

Politicians, bureaucrats and law enforcing agencies always accuse the petty criminals, rapists, murderers, and other elements that go against the norms and spirit of the laws, that they discourage foreign investors.

But what do they say about institutionalized crimes, or simply, using their power for personal gains. This does have a devastating impact on the economy.

Normal trend in other countries have revealed that politicians, bureaucrats, company CEO’s and influential figures whose role have direct impact on people resign when implicated for alleged corruption.

These help in several ways. They maintain their reputation, the organization, the country and finally but not the least making it possible for a speedy and impartial investigation into alleged corruptions.

New York Times reported that Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland, one of Europe’s longest-serving leaders, announced his resignation in May 2008.

He denied accusations of corruption in the 1990s, when he was finance minister, but said he was quitting, preventing his government’s work from being “constantly deflected by the minutiae of my life, my lifestyle and my finances.”

During Mr. Ahern’s 11 years in office, Ireland’s economy has undergone a transformation to become one of the most robust in Europe.

“I want everyone to understand one truth above all else. Never, in all the time I have served in public office, have I put my personal interest ahead of the public good,” NYT quoted Mr. Ahern.

Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister said he will not stand for the leadership of his Kadima party, instead step down once Kadima has chosen a new leader after the September 17 poll, Aljazeera reports.

He has been under pressure to resign since police opened an inquiry into allegations of corruption during his time as mayor of Jerusalem.

Olmert, 62, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in connection to the claims that he received cash-stuffed envelopes from a U.S. businessman, but he said he would step down if indicted.

Los Angeles times reported May 18 last year that World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz announced his resignation effective June 30, 2007, after weeks of controversy over accusations that he had arranged a job transfer and substantial salary increases for his companion, who was a bank official.

The Wolfowitz controversy involved allegations that he had improperly arranged a promotion and raises for Shaha Ali Riza, a bank employee with whom he had been involved for several years before Bush named him to the institution’s top job.

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan resigned recently rather than face impeachment.

Leaders of the two major parties in the coalition announced that they would seek Mr. Musharraf’s impeachment on charges that include illegally suspending the Constitution and imposing emergency rule last November and wrongly dismissing nearly 60 judges under that decree.

There are numerous examples world over.

Island leaders are not like Mohammed Soeharto, Ferdinand Marcos and Mobutu Sese Seko who ripped off up to $US50 billion ($A67.7 billion) from the people of Indonesia, the Philippines and Zaire, equivalent to the West's entire annual aid budget, as stated by anti-bribery campaigners.

But what ever the nature of the alleged corruption, islanders will wait longer to see their leaders resign voluntarily so that investor confidence is retained and strengthened.

Aid donors require transparency and accountability among leaders and institutions in Oceania.
Genuine donors like China have been accused by regional powers for allegedly corrupting Island states for providing non-conditional aids, but this is not Beijing’s problem as it does not interfere in islands sovereignty. After all, it’s how leaders run the affairs of their countries.

Former US president Richard Nixon in his speech, “Au Revoir” when resigning during the Watergate scandal said, “…we think that when someone dear to us dies….when we lose an election… when we suffer a defeat that all is ended.”

“Not true. It is only a beginning, always. The young must know it, the old must know it. It must always sustain us, because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes and you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

But Island leaders never in their life want to be in the deepest valley. Only God knows their reasons!

Note: “Asia-Pacific Perspective: China +” looks at Chinese society, culture, economy, governance and China’s role within the Asia Pacific region and the world over. It mainly focuses on how Oceania can learn from China’s experience. The writer is a PNG student studying in China.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vanuatu Daily Post Publishes My Articles

The Daily Post English newspaper in Port Vila, Vanuatu, is currently publishing my weekly column every Saturdays. My column, "Asia Pacific Perspective: China +" attempts to reach all the island countries so they can learn from China. This is a personal initiative with no funding and support by any organisation or individuals. I am currently writing for three newspapers, with my column, "Asia Pacific Perspective: China +" for Sunday Chronicle newspaper in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea published every Sunday, Island Sun newspaper in Honiara, Solomon Islands and Daily Post newspaper in Port Vila in Vanuatu every Saturday. I am striving to reach out to other island countries sooner.
Mathew Yakai
Note: Jeffery in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea sent me an email on Friday 29th August, 2008 (below) after accessing my blog.

Hi guy from Tambul Ice Block,

Have visited your website and found out that your articles are fascinating. To write such it needs a lot time and effort. Haven’t come across to such articles from any of the previous students who have studied there. For sure, you are unique person among all those formers and just a brilliant.

Can see that you still have potential left in tank to create a book about CHINA. Please post anything related to China’s Development Life Style.

Keep on writing

All the best in your studies

Crowne Plaza Port Moresby

Note: Jeffery, I promise you and rest of my loyal readers that I will write on issues between China and PNG, including other Pacific island countries. This, I believe will facilitate common understanding between Beijing and Port Moresby with rest of the island countries. Thank you
Writers note: I first met Ipul Powaseu in Fiji in 1999 with dauthers Martha, Dorothy and son Sandy. On Thursday 28, 2008 she sent me a suprising email, applauding me for my regular column in the Sunday Chronicle, PNG. Below is the email she sent.

Dear Matthew,

It’s good afternoon to you and long time no hear.

I often enjoy reading your column in the Chronicles. By the way, I am here in Port Moresby with the girls (Martha is at Medical School and Dorothy is doing Law at UPNG (both second year). Sandy is doing his year 12 and would like to follow a career in Economics or Business.

I had been just reading the Chronicles and I enjoy reading your column. It is interesting to note your commentaries on China’s perspective in the Pacific. But one thing keeps making me wonder is the perception of Asian marketing of cheap products in the Pacific. I would like to read your opinion on this issue.

And if you return to PNG do drop in and say hi. I am currently working here at the National Research Institute as the Executive Officer.

With all our love.

Ms Ipul Powaseu

Note: Ipul, the so called cheap China's cheap product is an interesting issue. The cheap product issue had a diplomatic stand-off between Washinon and Beijing on Chinese made ‘toys" and also between Beijing and Tokyo on "dumbling". In PNG, we had our problem with the "tooth paste", and many others. But one thing I must emphasise is that everything I eat, wear, and use now is Chinese made, very cheap and of good quality. All start from food, clothes, laptop, mobile phone, MP3, digital camera, beer, transport etc. If I have a choice to choose between expensive and cheap products then I would go for Chinese products - not because they are cheap but of good quality. One must come to China to experience what I say. I will definitely work on an article on that. xiexie nin!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I did the article, "The First Anniversary" (below) and Amos Kafare sent me the below email from Port Moresby after reading Sunday Chronicle. Amos was my music teacher back at Aiyura National High School in 1994 and now teaches at an international School in POM.

Mat Gutpela moning tru long yu, thanks for acknowledging me on yesterdays paper. You can see that your writing is appreciated by many, many people and I’m proud. Why not produce a book with all your writings, just a suggestion. Bro you won’t make a mistake if you are thinking of becoming a diplomat one day with your wide knowledge. Time will tell… Y Mai may miss out if massing about opportunities. Catch and God Bless.

Friday, August 22, 2008

PNG student in China, Gene Drekeke Iyovo in his room, admiring my website where I post all my commentaries published by Sunday Chronicle in PNG and Island Sun in Solomon Islands.

The First Anniversary

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

DURING the Cold War period, Washington used either “engagement” or “containment” policy towards countries that were not following the “American Way”. China was one.

China learnt from Moscow’s collapse and drafted foreign policies that benefited its domestic polity, while actively engaging in regional and international forums, through “multilateralism”.

Multilateralism works well for U.S., as in the ongoing Six Party Talks, as opposed to “unilateralism”, as unilateral attack on Iraq.

Washington thinks that “engaging” China in regional and international forums will convert the communist state to a full democracy. But Washington bites its own tail now.

The Middle Kingdom progresses economically, depicting that communism can serve the needs of the people. Meanwhile, whatever china engages in: ‘multilateralism on win-win situation with non-interference in others sovereignty is upheld.”

Given China’s vast landmass with 56 different ethnic groups, the South China Sea issue, the recent Tibet upraises and the Taiwan Strait issue, China’s foreign and domestic policies is geared at addressing these issues through established forums, let alone issues concerning its sovereignty.

The post-Mao leadership, under the tentacle of Deng Xiaoping with other cadres of leadership, China discarded its hard line communist ruled mechanism that starved the economy into an open state since 1978.

Today marks its 30 years anniversary, boasting one of the fastest growing economies ever experienced in human history.

Coincidently, the ongoing Beijing Olympic is a welcoming party in the spirit of sportsmanship.

Given China’s rapid economic growth that has made Beijing’s “regional power” and “world presence” known, I have tried to depart China’s economic, political, spiritual and social developments.

The Western powers came, divided, ruled and left the sub-Saharan African countries, Central America down to South America and to Oceania. All they left behind was the ruin of colonialism and Eurocentric idealism, frustratingly insane and unique to the already existed social strata and norms.

China is no exception as it was humiliated by the western powers. But Chairman Mao Zedong stood up and fought aggressively, and today China is a proud Motherland.

Every Chinese leaders and policy makers are vary of policies or advise from foreign elements because they were once humiliated by the same. Any policies to be considered must be “home grown” with domestic flavor. No wonder China is growing today.

When this commentary started on August 26th last year, it gave prominence to how and why PNG and Oceania should learn from Beijing, given the fact that it is the world factory next door.

Since commencing, overwhelming responses were sent by keen readers, both in and outside PNG.

Though 26th August falls on Tuesday, I bring the anniversary forward and share with you the responses.

The distinguished comment I received was from the Chinese ambassador to PNG, his Excellency Wei Ruixing, an email dated January 30, 2008.

‘I am writing to commend your efforts in writing articles (commentaries) published on Sunday Chronicle, which were very informative to PNG readers and constructive for the mutual understanding between the peoples of China and PNG.’

‘I read almost every article you wrote, from which I also learned something new in my own country. I wish to express my appreciation to you for your contributions to the promotion of mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples and our two countries,” Ambassador Ruixing stated.

Former politician and banker, Clement Nakmai also commended in an email dated Tuesday 20, 2008.

“Dear Mr. Yakai, Let me congratulate you for having educated us back in PNG on our emerging economic power within the Asia Pacific Region-China.”

“Your regular articles have been very informative and I believe many of our citizens change their perception on the various aspects of our relations with China. Certainly for me it has changed my understanding of China; and I can only see many opportunities for us in PNG and the Pacific if we think and re-engineer how we can harness much strategic trade, investments, educational and other aspects of engaging with China”.

Douglas Kera with the Foreign Affairs Department is a close follower of my commentary.

He sent an email on March 28th 2008, “Bro I have been following your column and begin to learn things from it. Please keep it up.”

Foreign Affairs Department with its Ministry maintains and promotes relationship between major international relation players. Receiving comments from an officer who hails from such organization is encouraging.

For the record, Douglas has gone through a short term Chinese language studies in Beijing and knows the economic prosperity of China and the benefits that lies ahead for PNG and the regional governments.

Keron Kilip, with Investment Promotion Authority, Port Moresby, sent an email dated May 21st, 2008 “….your interesting articles from Sunday Chronicle is never missed out reading...”

She sent the comment during one of her emails to find out on the situation of Papua New Guineans in China during the recent devastating earthquake. What a caring sister and Papua New Guinean to check us out!

Meckles Poya, lecturer at University of PNG highly commended the commentary saying that the commentary is enriching Papua New Guineans on the real aspect of China and the role China can play in PNG and the region.

Mr. Poya encouraged me to keep contributing given the fact that I am doing something that others can not do as they have their own responsibilities.

Peter Kinjap, one of the commentator with Sunday Chronicle said on the phone at 1:23am on Monday 18th August that my commentaries are outstanding and not only appealing to Papua New Guineans but the region as a whole.

Amos Kafare (AK47), former Aiyura National High school teacher back in 1995 sent an email, “Mathew, I saw your article on the paper and am very proud of you. It seems that you are doing a lot of research to write as such. Keep writing.”

Roger Ku Kaku with Fincorp said, “Your commentaries are very “powerful” and can not be missed reading.”

Comments were also received from Papua New Guineans abroad after accessing my blog

From Qatar Power Transmission System Expansion Phase VII (Substation) Project, Doha, Middle East was a lone Ialibuan from Southern Highlands, Samuel Kakeiye dated August 17th, 2008.

“I am a regular visitor of your blog as I find your articles being comprehensively presented.

Well researched with qualitative and quantitative data. Very informative and interesting…provide a range of intuitive options to consider with much relevance to the issues at present to the Asia Pacific. I suggest one can read to understand.”

“Your articles covering the insights of China's culture, economy, governance and its extended missions to the Asia Pacific provides many lessons. Extensively bringing to the limelight of some issues of importance.”

“I wholeheartedly commend you for the brilliant initiative in maintaining your blog. Keep up the excellent work. Please do not take leave posting more articles, I can not wait ages to read the next article.”

Albert Tobby, a PNG student in Beijing also applauded my commentary after reading them on my blog.

“As a Papua New Guinean, I’m grateful for your publication. On behalf of the other Papua New Guineans who don't have such privilege to comment on your publication, I would humbly say...thank you very much Mathew …for helping us understand a country that is fast becoming an economic super power.”

“In the last two decades since the reform and opening up China's socialist structure has scored massive achievements that attracted world attention.”

“However given the large population and weak foundation and unbalanced development it still remains the largest developing country in the world. This means that there still remain a lot of rooms for development.”

“Thus the scenario implies that China's economic growth and dominance is inevitable. All CEO's, Presidents, Prime Ministers and Chancellors should be aware that China is a must strategic ally in development in this rapidly changing global community.”

Albert said it well. I should take this opportunity to commend Albert with rest of the PNG students in Beijing with the PNG embassy staff for showcasing PNG in various forums and activities.

Gene Drekeke from Asaro, Eastern Highlands Province at the Microbiodiesel Engineering in China sent me another fascinating email.

“I find your blog very interesting. Being in China now for one year, I have seen and witnessed a nation that has a rapid economic growth, infrastructure development and very good transport and communication system. A country of unique and strong traditional role model.”

“Your site is taking a voluntary role to tell the rest of Pacific island nations and the world about these facts. I see your site voice a lot on Asia and Chinas’ facts to the rest of the world”.

“I take time reading your site, update my knowledge on China and Asia. I believe rest of us in PNG and other Pacific Island nations can learn a lot from your writings. Keep up the good work,” Gene said.

For the benefit of PNG, Gene is a young promising scientist currently conducting research on biodiesel, an alternative fuel source for PNG.

Gene is a firm believer that if PNG can invest millions of Kina in a biodiesel project today, the country will progress economically.

I pray that PNG government recognizes the effort and desire of people like Gene in his research work.

Comments never came only from Papua New Guineans. Yaqin Zhang, Professor of dermatology at Jilin University in China and a medical expert on skin disease read my articles on my blog and sent her comments.

“I saw your articles on your website, you wrote a lot …hahaha…you are diligent, intelligent and humorous person I think.”

“If you want to know China better, I would like to tell you.”

On Wednesday 20, Yaqin and son Billy visited me at my hotel. They later invited me for dinner at an Indian restaurant after our short conversation.

The Indian spicy food was a perfect match to celebrate the first anniversary of this commentary.

China has a big land mass with large population of 1.3 billion and 500 years old history and currently experiencing rapid economic growth. Amazing, isn’t it? That’s what I will share with you in my coming commentaries.

Note: “Asia-Pacific Perspective: China +” looks at Chinese society, culture, economy, governance and China’s role within the Asia-Pacific region and the world over. It mainly focuses on how Oceania can learn from China’s experience. The writer is a PNG student in China

Friday, August 15, 2008

International Relations students from Jilin University, China with their colleagues from Yonsei University, South Korea with professors during the first Annual Graduate Workshop on “Globalization and Regional Integration in East Asia” in April 26 this year in Changchun, China. The international students come from all over the word, including PNG (Mathew in red middle raw far right) and Fiji (Leba in red far left back row) to study in China under the Chinese Government Scholarship.

Olympic diplomacy to student diplomacy

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

VINCENT W. Sumale is the current Counselor at the Embassy of Papua New Guinea in Washington D.C., United States of America.

He sent me an email on July 22, 2008: “Which part of China are you studying? I used to study Mandarin (Chinese language) at the Beijing Language Institute (Beijing Yuyan Sue Yuan) and later at Beijing University (Beida) studying International Political Relations.”

Vincent’s email was in response to my earlier email of July 12, 2008 to Ambassador Evan J. Paki who was appointed in March 2003, and concurrently serves as PNG’s High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Mexico.

“I am so impressed with the embassy’s website and your representation in U.S. Keep up the good job,” I mentioned in my email to Ambassador Paki.

What inspired me of Vincent is that he attended one of the best universities in China, Beijing University.

The 21st Century Business Herald, the first authoritative financial and economic newspaper published that Tsinghua University in China is ranked first with a 270.74 score, and Beijing University and Zhejiang University took second and third places respectively.

Sometimes, Beijing University ascends to the top placing.

Jilin University which I attend is one of the top ten in China apart from Fudan University, Nanjing University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Wuhan University and Zhongshan University.

Almost all Chinese students dream of attending Beijing University, Tsinghua University, or the top ten universities mentioned earlier.

“I was one of the first two Papua New Guineans to study in China under the Chinese Government Scholarship. It was fun to study in China although the first two/three months were extremely difficult,” said Vincent.

When writing this commentary, I am aware of many PNG students currently studying throughout China, majoring in various subjects at renowned universities under the prestigious Chinese Government Scholarship.

They include language students, undergraduates, postgraduate (MA and PhD), senior visiting scholars and general scholars.

Last week, I checked the list of incoming international students for this September and I was excited to discover a PNG student’s name. He (name) works with the Foreign Affairs Department in Port Moresby and will major in International Relations.

In the evening, I called a PNG student (name) and boast that eventually I will have a fellow Papua New Guinean at my university. He told me that there would be more then 15 PNG students coming to China.

The figure was not confirmed with the responsible authorities, though attempts were made.
China welcomes students from all over the world, including PNG students to study, while experiencing its 500 years old history under its scholarship scheme.

Chinese Government Scholarship scheme was established by the Ministry of Education in accordance with educational exchange agreements or understandings reached between Chinese government and governments of other countries, education organs, institutions and relevant international organizations to provide both full and partial scholarship to international students and scholars.

Since the reform and opening-up policy in 1987, China has received over 300 thousand overseas students from more than 160 countries.

They include language students, undergraduates, postgraduate (MA and PhD), senior visiting scholars and general scholars. Financially, they are divided into two groups: scholarship students and self-supporting students.

In the 2007 Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) Annual Reports, latest available statistics of international students under the Scholarships reveals that undergraduate students and diploma students top the list with 2,811 and 2,886 (28%) respectively.

Others include masters with 2,554 (25%), doctoral with 1,250 (12%), advanced diploma with 571 (6%) and short term program with 123 (1%).

The Report states that in academic year 2007 to this year, a total of 4,363 first year Chinese Government Scholarship recipient from 156 countries were received by 119 Chinese universities, with a recruit rate of 93.05 percent.

Among which, 2,338 were degree students, accounting for 53.59 percent of the total and representing a 1.89 percent increase over the previous years; 2,025 were non-degree students, accounting for 46.4 percent of the total; the number of graduate students, students of advanced learning and visiting scholars amounted to 1,800 representing 41.26 percent of the total; and 539 student were taking courses offered in English representing 12.35 percent of total.

In 2007, a total of 10,151 Chinese scholarship recipients from 168 countries studied in 118 universities, of which, 4,171 from Asia, 2,733 from Africa, 2,107 from Europe, 954 from America and 186 from Oceania (PNG included).

In 1997, there were only 36 students from Oceania, 119 in 1998 and 165 in 1999, according to the previous Annual Reports.

Last year, another 14 universities have been approved to receive Chinese Government Scholarship recipients from all over the world for the first time.

The rationale behind stating all these statistics is to give you are picture of China’s intention of opening up since 1978, by not only sending its students overseas to top foreign universities to be educated and later recruited in notable governmental positions, but also providing financial aid to foreign students from other countries to know more about China.

Vincent stated that he was one of the first two PNG students during his time to study in China.

Today, more PNG students have committed their time to learn more from China so that they can return to contribute their knowledge towards the development of PNG.

China education and research network states that the number of foreign students studying in China has risen more than 20 percent annually over the past five years by quoting a Chinese educational official in Beijing.

"The Chinese government values educational cooperation with foreign countries and welcomes more foreign students to study in China," said Liu Baoli, vice director of the international cooperation department of the Ministry of Education (MOE).

He said there were 110,000 foreign students studying in China in 2004 and this has increased tremendously over the past years, reports China education and research network.

"China wishes to know more about the world and allows the world to know more about China," said Liu.

The ongoing attack on the Chinese communities in PNG and other pacific island countries is the cause of ideological and historical differences. Liu believes that one of the ways to bridge this gap is through education, by bringing not only PNG students but students from other countries to study in China, to know more about China and accept its genuine global presence and regional power.

Foreign graduates, Liu said, have contributed positively to friendly exchanges between China and other countries in the world in diplomatic, economic and cultural fields. Vincent is one good example.

Liu is correct and PNG must look beyond Liu’s comment.

China is growing rapidly in economic terms. Its GDP has tripled recently and now plays a major role in the region and the world affairs.

China is here to stay, so it’s PNG’s role to understand Beijing’s presence so that the two countries can work together for win-win situation.

China is also providing an educational avenue where students from all over the world can live, study, interact and exchange opinions based on research outcomes amongst themselves and the Chinese students in their respective fields of studies.

After all, these students will be the leaders of their respective countries, region and the world.

Rayn Pini, PNG’s gold medal hopeful, Dika Tau and rest of PNG’s athletes in the current Olympic in Beijing have represented PNG well in their respective sports. But they will stay here for only 17 days, the duration of the Game.

For those students who will join others already in China this coming September will stay for a year, or more.

Some may make China their home for the rest of their lives, thanks to globalization.

This reminds me of the late Okuk’s remark at UPNG Forum Square during the time of his best political career, “today we educate Papua New Guineans to work in PNG but tomorrow, Papua New Guineans will compete in the world job markets.”

China is now opening the door for PNGans to reach the global job opportunities. But importantly, to understand China very well and allow China understands PNG well too.

Congratulations to those students, who will take up studies, come September. This commentary salutes your time and commitment, not only for the benefit for your family and tribe but significantly, for PNG and world.

If Beijing Olympic slogan is ‘One World – One Dream” searching for a better future that sports can provide, then in the academic arena, the intellectual enrichment to “think globally and act globally” for common prosperity in peace, harmony and humanity is also China’s aims and dreams.

“Student’s diplomacy” will make a great impact in this China’s aims and dreams by upholding the bilateral relationship between Great China and PNG.

From domestic politics (protecting ones sovereignty), to regional politics and the international politics, at the end is the game of great men and women of big dreams and wisdoms to leave lasting legacy for future generations.

And that great dream in the 21st century can only emanate from great young people with great thinking, including those PNG students who will take up studies in China.

From this land far away, thousands of miles from Waigani, I see my beloved PNG, the country that gave me blood to survive. When I hear the winds whisper that the “big man” steals from “little man”, and makes him starve to death, it adds more courage to step forward.

The only way to stop the “big man” starving the “little man”, PNG needs vibrant intellectuals to reach the highest pinnacles of their scholarly reasoning, with accumulated wisdoms from experiences and exposures through education. China is providing the opportunity today.

It is heartbreaking to leave behind the affection of home, friends and relatives, but, PNG needs you in the future to rescue the “small man”.

Come and join rest of PNG students here in China. You will find new friends, new families and warm homes, that will make you become a global citizen with PNG nationality.

Note: “Asia-Pacific Perspective: China +” looks at Chinese society, culture, economy, governance and China’s role within the Asia-Pacific region and the world over. It mainly focuses on how Oceania can learn from China’s experience. The writer is a PNG student in China

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Me and Zeng Lee (my photographer and translator) resting under the shade of the tree with our bicycle at the back at Nanhu Park.

At the background is a typicl traditional Chinese bridge you find anywhere in China. This is at Nanhu Park in Changchun, China. Pic by Zeng Lee.

Zeng Lee captured this image when I was paddling along a heavy traffic. Chinese traffic is very heavy and dangerious sometimes. When on the road, one must be very careful. I was on my way to Nanhu Park.
One of Japanese oldest built train at Nanhu Park, with me standing in front. This Chinese lad decided to join in with a plastic back in her hand. Pic by Zeng Lee.

Couple enjoying the tricycle ride at Nanhu Park, China, with two wheels in front and one at the back. They paddle the tricycle and use a wheel steer to control it. It appeared romantic for young couple to ride (Picture by Zeng Lee)

This is me at Nanhu Lake, sometimes refered to as South Lake in Changchun, China. Pic by Zeng Zing

At Nanhu Park, Changchun, China. At the background are senior citizens of China, dancing to a Chinese tune. During summer, elder people normally come around the park to entertain them selves. This is also onsidered as pat of exercise to keep themselves physically fit. Picture by Zeng Zing

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nanhu Lake Park

Picture above shows Mathew Yakai paddling on Nanhu Lake in China on 23rd July, 2008. Located in the southwest of Changchun City, China, the park covers about 222 hectares of land, including 93 hectares of lake. Being the largest park in Changchun, it was established in 1993. The lake is vast, with willows hanging down all along the banks. There is an island in the center, with an arch bridge connecting it with the bank, and a pavilion and three bridges. There is also the Nanhu Bridge and the Nanhu Hotel. Colorful boats dot the lake. In the park, there are many kinds of trees and shrubs, covering 50 percent of the park, including coniferous trees, broad-leaved trees and fruit trees. Tourists can swim, boat, fish and play in summer, and sleigh and go ice boating in winter.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Standing in the front row from left are Sir John Dawanicura (Chairman of PNG Olympic Committee), Syd Yates (Chief de mission PNG Olympic Team to Beijing), Chen Zhili (Vice President of BOCOG and Mayor of Olympic Village), John Momis (PNG Ambassador to PRC), and Sir Henry toRobert (President of PNG Olympic Committee and Sports Federation). Picture was taken during the flag raising ceremony in Beijing on Thursday. Picture by Albert Tobby in Beijing

I love my country

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

On August 6th, 2007, Chinese embassy in Port Moresby appointed me to deliver a speech on behalf of PNG students (including myself) leaving for various studies in Great China.

Let me make it clear. When I say Great China, it includes the Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

During my speech, I elaborated, “one can take me out of PNG but he or she will never take PNG out from me.”

For those who have been overseas will agree with me that it is reliving when one is recognized as a Papua New Guinean or by his nationality.

Why do I say this? See, it was 8.45pm, 08-08-08. I was in my room with my Japanese friend, Furukawa, gluing our nose to the TV screen. By the way, he brought a Japanese rice wine and we enjoyed it.

On the phone was Shaggy from Pogera. I put my mobile close to the TV speaker so she could hear the ongoing grand opening of Beijing Olympic.

At exactly 8:45pm, Gene Drekeke Iyovo, a PNg student in China called me from Jiangnan University of China in Jiangsu Province.

This is the moment I will never forget. The Big Fish…Rayn Pini was leading team PNG into the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. When I saw the PNG flag in Pini’s hand, with all the PNG team my tears naturally dropped down my chin…for a simple reason….”I love my country.”

On the floor of parliament, our elected leaders accuse each other…but that’s the beauty of democracy.

Rape, murder, criminal activities, unemployment, HIV/Aids…dominate our media and we still complain about these negative aspects of our failures. But we have never taken any moment out to join those who have taken PNG flag to places where they really represent PNG….for this case, Pini and team PNG.

I cried for one good reason….”I love my country”…and when I saw the flag in Pini’s hand before a capacity crowd of 48 thousand people and about four billion people watching on TV, I knew that China has provided the venue for PNG to make its presence known to the world scene.

Gene sent me a text message later and said, “Unblinkingly watched the different colors came officially into the Olympic bird's nest, the time of opening. The mentioned of Babuya Xinjineiya meaning Papua New Guinea in Chinese sent a shower of shock emotion down my spine, the PNG flag sent wave of tears, the flag bearer Rayn Pini gave me courage with joy and a new heart among the presence of world leaders, super powers and super citizens.”

He continued, “Amidst a world PNG exist. I personally believed the Olympics bring the whole world together under one burner-''One world one dream''. From those of us scattered into outer China away from Beijing, gave our hopes to Team PNG and watch your performance earnestly on TV. God Bless PNG!”

When Gene called, I was still crying…may be I am emotional but see, I love my country.

China has been accused many times by foreign media and individuals for being a communist state, on human right issues, and others.

Have you ever been to China? How much do you know about China? Do you believe what is on the media?

See…I have been to some of the villages in China and let me kindly and honestly tell you. The families here have three balanced meals a day. Their kids go to school, paid by the government.

Most of the old buildings are now demolished and families are moving into new high covenant buildings, provided with law rates by the government.

The health services and common facilities are provided by the government. The older citizens are taken care of by the government.

The train rail ways connect all provinces in China. Jobs in China are mushrooming any moment and people are engaged, thus, earning adequate money to enjoy the growing China.

When I read foreign media, accusing China of certain issues, I turn to wonder….in the hearth of Washington D.C, you see beggars. USA has a very serious human rights issue to address.

In Australia, see the way Canberra is treating the indigenous Australians.

In China, I have never seen any baggers on the street. You see beggars in PNG, in Australia, in America, even in Osaka in Japan. Not in China.

After the collapse of former USSR, China is now remaining as the only major communist state.

When I carefully look at China’s political situation, I totally admire its principles….and term it as a ‘guided democracy”. Why do I say this?

Look at all the African countries, South American countries, and Pacific Island countries, which were once colonized by western countries. We all have serious political problems because we abuse democracy.

But you see China, the democracy is guided and specifically focused towards benefiting the people. Let me give you an example.

During the devastating Earthquake in China recently, the President of China and top political leaders were at the scene with relief supplies immediately after four hours.

In PNG, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare hardly visits some of our naturally affected areas. Former Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta even tells PNG that he can not drag the Prime Ministers office to the street.

Late Bill Skate won the country’s heart when he was at tsunami affected Sepik.

Since China won the right to stage the Olympic, it has gone through close media watch. But this country, which I admire of its international standing, has been very genuine with its principles.

China is a member of many regional and international organizations. Importantly, a member of UN Security Council.

When the World Bank and IMF were slow to rescue the affected Asian countries during the Asian financial crises, China stood up and helped these countries.

When USA was devastated by the September 11 attack, Beijing sent condolences and further emphasized that any action taken must be carefully considered. Consequently, China did not support USA’s unilateral attack on Iraq.

China was not only wise but played by rules and norms of international values.

Recently, China has heavily involved in the Six Party talk, making North Korea to open up. The next possible role China can play is to negotiate with Iran.

So what more do the so called Western countries and their media expect from China. And this is what PNG must understand. PNG should not look at China through Western media, but must be independently.

Olympic is on now. Ryn Pini will splash the waves in Beijing. If he wins gold then its good for PNG, but the most important think he will do is strengthening the bilateral relationship between PNG and China.

China has invested heavily in PNG. That has brought food on our family tables. China is willing and ready to continue to do that.

After the Olympic, China will not be the same. For PNG, we are lucky to have China as one of our partners. Let’s treasure it, because Hu Jintao emphasized that he is willing to help the developing countries, which includes PNG.

To show that we are genuine with our bilateral relationship, I strongly recommend that PNG builds its own embassy building in Beijing, like what we have done recently in Tokyo.

I am sure, Beijing will help fund the construction.

Note: “Asia-Pacific Perspective: China +” looks at Chinese society, culture, economy, governance and China’s role within the Asia-Pacific region and the world over. It mainly focuses on how Oceania can learn from China’s experience. The writer is a PNG student in China

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Beijing Summer Olympic magic number

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

AUGUST 8, 2008, or 08-08-08, is more than just a date: it marks both the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games and is considered a lucky day for marriage with so many eights.

It is estimated that 15,000 couples will marry in Beijing on the day and 130,000-140,000 this year.
The grand opening is on Friday 8 and the first game at 8pm.

Today, the sacred Olympic Flame is in Sichuan for its last leg before it arrives in Beijing on Wednesday 6 for the grand opening on August 8.

Sichuan is given a special leg because of the devastating May 12 earthquake that left about 4.8 million people homeless with millions perished under the debris of the deadliest earthquake in China’s modern history.

The Flame passed through 100 cities in China and 18 cities around the globe, making it the longest leg in the Olympic history. Not only that. The flame also reached the highest peak, Mt Everest.

Thus, this game is very special that you should not miss, either on your TV screen or live in Beijing.

According to the Olympic Committee, there are reasons why you should not miss the Game

1. The 100,000-strong army of Beijing Olympic volunteers is the largest in Olympic history.

Each of the 70,000 Olympic and 30,000 Paralympic volunteers has undergone months of training.

2. 2008 is the first time one organizing team will oversee both the Olympics and Paralympics.

3. High-definition technology will be used for all TV broadcast operations, with all events and ceremonies enjoying 5.1 surround sound, a first for the Olympics.

4. A record 4 billion people are set to watch the Beijing Games.
Beijing Olympic Broadcasting (BOB), the official broadcaster of the Games, will produce about 5,400 hours of programs during the 17-day gala, 2,000 more than in Athens four years ago.

5. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has, for the first time, separately sold broadcasting rights for television and new media such as Internet and mobile networks.

CCTV (China’s Central TV) acquired the TV rights for the Beijing Games, while was awarded the domestic Internet and mobile platform license.

6. About 40,000 journalists will cover the Games, including 21,600 accredited media workers in press, broadcasting and television.

The Beijing International Media Center will also provide some 10,000 non-accredited journalists work areas and accommodation, among other services.

7. To help host a successful Games, six cities in China have joined Beijing as co-hosts. Tianjin, Shanghai, Qinhuangdao in Hebei province and Shenyang in Liaoning province will stage some Olympic soccer matches.

The coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong province will host the sailing regatta, while Hong Kong, a city with a long history of horse racing and matching first-class facilities, will play host to equestrian events.

8. To modernize the Games, the IOC will introduce two new sports: Bicycle motocross (BMX) and the 10km marathon swim.

9. Some 600 cheerleaders from all over the country will go all out to entertain spectators with Chinese folk dancing, acrobatics, drum shows, lion dancing and martial arts during time-outs.

10. The Olympic Forest Park, 680 hectares of plantation and lakes, has given the city a new green lung.
Beijing also built a number of new water purification plants for daily water recycling, replaced dated equipment at its power plants and retrofitted gas stations citywide.

Beijing has also planted millions of trees to minimize sandstorms.

11. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay was scheduled to travel the longest distance and include the largest number of people over 130 days.

It reached the highest peak of Mount Qomolangma (Mt Everest) on May 8.

12. A 170-page Chinese Menu in English Version is seen as exemplary of one success of the English-speaking campaign throughout the city.

Pop stars teaching audiences correct English pronunciation and cab drivers toting language books all are part of Beijing's multilingual pre-Olympic effort.

13. A total of 4,104 Chinese have been named Aoyun (Chinese for "the Olympics") in homage to the Beijing Olympic Games, according to the figures released by the National Citizen Identity Information Center under the Ministry of Public Security in June.

Nearly 700 of the names were registered in 1992, when Beijing first applied to host the Games and another 553 were registered in 2001, when the city officially won the bid. About 92 percent of those named Aoyun are male.

14. Games organizers have held an annual Olympic cultural festival since 2003.

China's ancient culture and civilization are now being showcased to promote the Olympic spirit and publicize a green, hi-tech and people's Olympics.

15. Educating young people through sports is one of the primary goals of the Olympic Movement.

About 400 million young people in more than 500,000 schools across the country have received Olympic lessons ahead of the Beijing Games

16. The anti-doping effort at the Beijing Games will be more extensive than ever, with as many as 4,500 doping tests, 25 percent more than in Athens four years ago and 90 percent more than in Sydney in 2000.

17. The cost of the Beijing Games will dwarf the previous Olympics in Greece with total investment likely to reach $43 billion.

Venues, estimated to have cost about $1.8 billion to build, will be utilized as public sport and entertainment complexes afterwards.

Beijing also spent $16 billion in the past decade reducing smog, while additional infrastructure, such as the world's largest airport terminal, T3, an advanced railway station and new subway systems required vast expenditure.

18. Beijing's first subway linking Fuxingmen and Beijing Railway Station was initially built for military use, but today, 1.5 million passengers ride the 2-yuan subway each day.

The existing subway network spans 155 km and has 93 stations.

19. Multiple Olympic mascots are not uncommon, but for the first time more than three figures will share Summer Olympic mascot duty when the five Fuwa take center stage.

Featuring four of China's most popular animals - the fish, the panda, the Tibetan antelope and the swallow - and the Olympic flame, the mascots' names are "Beibei," "Jingjing," "Huanhuan," "Yingying" and "Nini," which together reads in Chinese as "Beijing welcomes you".

20. Beijing wished for its Olympic venues to be an expansion of its history and culture, both of which are firmly set on the spine of the city, a 7.7 km axis line running right through the emperor's seat at the Forbidden City, the middle of Tian'anmen Square, the Drum and Bell towers and Yongdingmen.

The north-south axis was believed to bring eternal stability, prompting designers of the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube to position them on either side of it.

In doing so, they have integrated modern ideas with the deep-rooted spirit of the Middle Kingdom.

21. Since launching the Beijing 2008 Olympic Marketing Plan in September 2003, a total of 63 enterprises have become sponsors of the Beijing Games, including 12 worldwide Olympic partners.

22. China will field its largest Olympic team to date when about 570 athletes contest 28 sports in Beijing.

23. Taking into account China's average purchasing power, BOCOG ensured a low-price policy for Beijing Olympic and Paralympic tickets.

Opening ceremony prices were capped at 5,000 yuan ($641) per head, while the lowest price to a sports competition was 30 yuan ($4).

Closing ceremony tickets ranged from 150-3,000 yuan ($19-385).

24. In striving for excellence, various Chinese national teams have invited foreign coaches to guide them.

More than 30 foreign coaches are currently working with the Chinese Olympic team.

25. A group of Chinese-born athletes representing other countries or regions will be an important force in Beijing.

26. A number of Chinese coaches will lead foreign teams on home soil, such as women's volleyball legend Lang Ping, who will lead the US women's team.

Meanwhile, former coach of the Chinese badminton team Li Mao will lead the South Korean team.

27. Olympic medals are for the first time made of metal and jade. The medals were inlaid with Kunlun jade from China's Qinghai province in a symbol of "respect" and "virtue" in the Chinese tradition.

28. People who love Chinese martial arts must not miss the Beijing 2008 Wushu Tournament to be held on the sidelines of the Beijing Olympic Games from Aug 21 to 24 at the Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium.

29. Significance of 08-08-08 - It is no coincidence that the Beijing Games begins at 8 pm on the 8th day of the 8th month of '08.

The number 8 has special significance to the Chinese, because 8 in Chinese is pronounced "ba", which sounds a lot like "fa", which means prosperity or wealth.

In Chinese culture, 8 also denote the number of immortals and structure of trigrams, both of which are linked to auspicious ideas.

Also, when two digits of the number 8 are placed together - "88" - they resemble the stylized form of two Chinese ""characters, hence representing double happiness, a popular motif usually pasted upon the doors of newly married Chinese couples.

The number 8 is highly favored among the Chinese for its connotations of good luck, fortune and longevity.

Good luck to Beijing Olympic, the great game.

And for team PNG, this commentary wishes you all the best in your performance. Your presence in the Game will further strengthen the bilateral relationship between PNG and Great China.

Note: “Asia-Pacific Perspective: China +” looks at Chinese society, culture, economy, governance and China’s role within the Asia-Pacific region and the world over. It mainly focuses on how PNG can learn from China’s experience. The writer is a PNG student in China