October 27, 2005

By Jessica Chapman
The Kaselehlie Press

The Chinese government, in cooperation with the FSM, recently commenced construction of official residences for the FSM's highest-ranking officials. The four residences, to be located next to the Capital complex in Palikir, are intended for President Urusemal, Vice President Killion, Supreme Court Chief Justice Andon Amaraich and Speaker Peter Christian. The bulk of the nearly $2 million project will be shouldered by the Chinese.

According to the Department of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure, China is contributing $1.7 million to the effort. The remaining $250,000 will come from the FSM.

The construction project is in line with China's aid principles, according to the Chinese embassy's secretary of business. China emphasizes sustainable development and the benefit of a country and development of its peoples in its diplomatic pursuits. "The national leaders deserve better working and living conditions," he said.

The project is one of two main efforts that China is currently investing in in the FSM. The other is the tuna commission. The country is contributing $2.5 million for that project. The FSM is providing $250,000. Officials say the intent to build residences for FSM officials accompanied the original design and construction of the national government buildings. However, "They decided that residences were not essential at that time," said Robert Hadley, TC&I secretary for infrastructure. The project remained dormant until a request several years ago from then-President Falcam to revive it. According to Carl Apis, deputy assistant secretary for Asian Affairs in the Department of Foreign Affairs, his department then proceeded to meet with foreign government representatives to seek their assistance. "When we sounded it out, China was receptive," said Apis.

The United States and Japan were approached as well, Apis reported. TC&I Project Manager Dickson Wichep estimates construction of the residences will take at least eight months. China Jiangsu Provincian Construction and Engineering Company is undertaking both projects.