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The acting Prime Minister, Ham Lini officially launched ICT Day on May 17th 2017 at the National Convention Center.
"Honourable Ministers, Heads of Foreign Missions to Vanuatu, Government Officials, Distinguished Guests, ICT Days Partners and Sponsors, Ladies and Gentlemen; Welcome to Pacific ICT Days 2017! I would like to take this opportunity to also acknowledge our online viewers especially those from Lenakel, Tanna and Luganville, Santo for similar celebrations and are joining us this morning. I also acknowledge Mr. Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union for recognizing this event and sending in your video address to Vanuatu. As Prime Minister and Minister responsible for ICTs and telecommunications, I extend a warm Vanuatu welcome the participants to the Pacific Internet Governance Forum, the National Emergency Telecoms Planning Workshop and the Internet Society (ISOC) Online Privacy Workshop, and partners for choosing to host your event alongside our annual Pacific ICT Days, and we hope to host more similar ICT events here in Vanuatu in the future. Today, Vanuatu joins other ITU members to celebrate the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2017. GOUVERNEMENT DE LA REPUBLIQUE DU VANUATU BUREAU DU PREMIER MINISTRE SPP 053 Port Vila, Vanuatu Tel: (678) 22413 Fax: 26301 GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF VANUATU OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER P M B 053 Port Vila, Vanuatu Tel: (678) 22413 Fax: 26301 Page 2 ICT’s are now essentially part of our lives. Children, youth, women, men, chiefs, church leaders, everyone has access and use ICTs! The government is doing its part to develop policies and establishing regulatory frameworks that ensure Vanuatu will continue to embark on technologies as a driving force to achieve our national vision. The National ICT Policy expresses a firm commitment of the Government to maximise the contribution, efficiency and effectiveness of information and communication technologies and empowering and benefiting every citizen and resident of Vanuatu. ICTs have a strong potential to transform education of our children, expand and improve government services, make us more resilient in the face of natural disasters, preserve and promote our culture, as well as provide new business opportunities, and generally enhance our livelihoods. The Universal Access Policy expresses the Government’s commitment to ensure ICTs and telecommunications services reach areas that are unserved or underserved. The policy mandates operators to connect 98% of Vanuatu’s population by 1 January 2018, and I thank all the operators for supporting this government policy and it is only 7 months away. The Cybersecurity Policy outlines the Government’s commitment to ensure citizens of Vanuatu, tourists, businesses and government enjoy the full benefits of a safe, secure and resilient cyber space enabling them to get access to knowledge and share information while understanding and addressing the risks, to reduce the benefits to criminals. Recently, the Government of Vanuatu also implemented the Right to Information Unit to implement the National Right to Information Policy that was approved in 2013. This Policy means that any person has the right to request and obtain access to information held by the government but also personal information that may be held by public and some private bodies. The RTI Policy was an initiative of Page 3 the Government working hand in hand with civil society and the media, with assistance from the United Nations Development Program. It shows a commitment by all to work together for a better future for our nation. I acknowledge the government, both past and present, for their political will and support; the private sector for supporting government policies and regulations; and the people for recognizing the importance of technology and using it. I call on our citizens, institutions and businesses to embrace our theme for this year “Big data for big impact.” Big Data for development is about turning imperfect, complex, often unstructured data into actionable information in development context. The insight brought on by advanced analysis can strongly compliment the evidence-based nature of decision-making that can be leveraged at the national, regional and international level to drive success towards attaining all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. We want to establish ourselves as leaders in ICTs, using as our models for long term development other countries like Singapore, South Korea, and Estonia. All these small countries became world leaders in just a generation, mainly through innovation in ICTs, e-commerce and e-government. We can do it, too, and we know we are on the right road. I would like to acknowledge the support of the Australian Government to the ICT and Telecommunications sector in Vanuatu through the Governance for Growth Program since 2007. This includes the support to liberalize the telecommunication market back in 2008; provide seed funding for the Universal Access Fund; the World Bank trust fund; the Daltron Government network migration project; the support for various long term technical assistance through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management; and finally the enormous support to OGCIO through the Prime Minister’s Office totalling over 1.6 Billion Vatu all in grant Page 4 funding. This partnership with the Australian Government is fruitful especially the establishment of the Office of Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and the totally independent Telecommunication and Radio communications Regulator’s Office (TRR), who are role model agencies within Vanuatu, the Pacific region and even globally. And finally, to all our partners and sponsors of the Pacific ICT Days 2017, (namely the Australian Government – DFAT, TRR, USP, TVL, Huawei, Vanuatu Tourism Office, Digicel, Wantok, Opticom, Cambuim Networks, Computer World, CNS, VNPF, Sharper Image, Kacific, Ahitec and Pacific Group Limited), I thank you all for your support to this event. I take this time extend a big ‘tankio tumas’ to our international speakers for taking your time out to be here with us over the next 2 days, and we look forward to learn and share with you at the panel discussions of each meeting. I wish you well in your deliberations and networking over these two days and I encourage you to support us again in the 2018 event. And for participants outside Vanuatu, I hope you will spend some time after this event to enjoy a bit more of Vanuatu. Having said these, I now declare the Pacific ICT Days 2017 and the Pacific Internet Governance 2017 celebrations here in Port Vila, Vanuatu open. Tankio tumas".
By Hon Johnny Koanapo Rasou, Member of Parliament for Tanna Constituency
A lot has been said about China’s diplomacy in the Pacific region. And in focusing on China’s presence, in particular its activities in the Pacific, there appears to be more criticisms about the manner in which China is conducting itself in the Pacific, than the positive role that China is playing in the development of many Pacific nations. Some weeks ago a Professor from an Indian University appears to be quite critical about China’s growing influence in the Pacific placing it in light of China’s commercial diplomatic activities including contracts and economic development activities. It is possible that this argument is relatively biased against China’s efforts to help the struggling Pacific Island Countries compared to India’s own diplomatic efforts in the region. India’s diplomatic efforts is big on Fiji and it is understandably clear. India’s foreign policy towards the Pacific Island nations has all the good intentions, but they are still trying to find a good formulae that will build a greater understanding between that incredible land and the Pacific nations. China’s help, however, is more widespread in the Pacific and it plays a complementary role in the region providing development options to the Pacific Island Countries who would otherwise be overly dependent on Australia and New Zealand, our two traditional partners. This piece of short article will not to draw any comparison between what china is doing against what other development partners are doing, because I think they all should be given space to achieve what is good for humanity in this part of the world. However, we need to analyse the rationale behind China’s diplomatic efforts in the region and place it against the backdrop of its own foreign policy objectives. Today China has become the second largest economy in the world. It has overtaken Japan. They know they are becoming economically powerful and are again trying to build their military to demonstrate their growing capability to contribute to international peace and maintain global order. China like many colonised countries, is still a developing country and is one that has gone through numerous aggression in its history, and its political experiences has to a larger extend influenced the type of Foreign policy they now have. And that is to pursue an independent Foreign Policy of peace and a national foreign policy that is defensive in nature. And such path of peace will lead to greater mutual and inclusive development around the world. China has never declared war on any developing country. Instead it is being called upon to play some mediatory role in our region amidst the growing tension between the North Koreans and the United States. But China holds dear five important principles of Peaceful Coexistence which I will not elaborate here. The above are critical elements of China’s Foreign Policy. However, it is very easy for people to pick on China’s activities in the Pacific region and create suspicion and fear that what China is doing in the Pacific is aimed at trapping the Pacific Islands into a relationship which will in the future become more of a liability to the Governments and states, rather than deliver the development outcomes they need. This is mostly a western framed argument. When analysing all these arguments, one needs to strike a balance between the need for China as a global player to pursue its interest and the recipient states to also pursue their own interests. China sees the economic opportunity in its relations to expand its commercial, political and security interests, and the Vanuatu Government also sees the economic opportunity in its relations with China to seek opportunities for grants and special concessional loans to build its roads, wharves and airports. China is helping Vanuatu in few major projects (Vanuatu National Convention Centre, Tanna-Malekula Road rehabilitation, Luganville wharf, Prime Minister’s Office Complex, MSG Secretariat building, Korman Stadium etc...to mention just a few) There is nothing wrong about this. It is a give and take in international relations. The fundamental rationale behind China’s diplomatic relations in the Pacific is based on an important rationale- Peace, Development, Cooperation and Mutual Benefit. Much of its guiding principles on Foreign Policy is based on its Confucius culture of universal peace and sharing (doing unto others what you would have them do to you). In poverty one should hold himself to a high standard, when prosperous one should contribute to the wellbeing of all. China is becoming more economically powerful and it is understandable that it could use its position as a leverage to offer options for development assistance to the developing nations. China’s activities is also based on its believe in the 21st Century as an era of globalisation and interdependence where strategic network is forged with all the regions of the world to achieve universal peace and global prosperity. And because of its growing significance as an international player, it will increasingly be called upon to contribute to finding the solutions to the rising global challenges, such as terrorism, climate change, provision of development finance etc… Under President Xi Jin Ping, China’s supreme Leader, China has embarked upon a “Belt and Road” initiative. This is a policy that is aimed at increasing cooperation and connectivity through trade and people to people bond. It is a policy of open cooperation that is aimed at facilitating financial and economic integration. This policy is largely aimed at portraying the Chinese values and principles in international cooperation. We find that China has now pledged $124 billion for this initiative. We in Vanuatu must also be able to navigate in this policy and see what legislations and policy we need to have in place to take advantage of the opportunities that China has to offer and where we need to avoid and give opportunities for our own people to prosper. China’s assistance is becoming more and more evident to our people who are now learning more about China’s capability to positively contribute to our development aspirations. And the manner in which the Chinese Government is delivering their aid to Vanuatu is different from the styles we are used to from New Zealand or Australia. But we must accept that all our development partners have different state structures. China is a communist state but it has created an enabling environment for its own citizens to flourish and therefore they themselves can go out and invest in other countries. China’s experiences have shown that a well-designed communist structure could be equally conducive to development and not only democracy as it used to be known. As a long time public servant in foreign affairs, managing our foreign relations, we had endeavoured to keep our relations with china amicable and sensible. We respect one china policy. We appreciate the growing responsibility that china must take up in a complex world. China was one of the very few countries that spoke in support of our nation to be decolonised and today we are an independent nation. This is a powerful support since China being a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, it made a lot of difference. If China is going to continue to grow, we the nations of the Pacific must celebrate that as an opportunity and not as a threat to our region. I urge the Chinese Government to renew their focus in our development and while building infrastructure is so critical to enabling access and enabling a more vibrant economy, they should also redirect their policy focus to the productive sector. I am encouraged that this could be a new path that the Chinese government will take in the near future. Once we begin to have the Chinese Government pursuing their foreign policy objective of mutual and inclusive agenda, it will make a huge difference in the lives of the 75-80% of our population who live in the rural area. And we hope we can continue to build on the relations we have with them.
At the request of the government of the Republic of Vanuatu, the Chines government agrees to provide the government of Vanuatu with 2 SUV and 25-19 seats buses including 15% spare parts and spare parts for vehicles aided by china before and to send 4 technicians including 1 interpreter to Vanuatu for 20 days providing technical service. All expenses of 11, 000,000.00 RMB Yuan arising from the above shall be paid from the grant assistance stipulated in the economic and cooperation agreements between the government of China and Vanuatu signed on November 2016. The Chinese side shall be responsible for the shipment of the goods to Port Vila and bear all expenses of international, trip, catering, accommodations and subsidies for the technicians. Vanuatu side shall be responsible for and bear the expenses of customs, clearance, taking delivery of the goods, local transportation and storage of the goods, upon arrival of the above mentioned goods in Port Vila. On the arrival of the above mentioned goods at Port Vila, both sides shall jointly examine the quality, quantity, specification of the goods and then subscribe the handover certificate.
The singing ceremony of the Chinese assistance took place on Saturday, 13th May, at the PM Office in Port Vila between Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and the chinese ambassador, Liu Quan. Mr Salwai told Mr Liu Quan that this assistance is once again very significant in the relation that Vanuatu has with China. He said buses will be helpful during South Pacific Mini Games in Port Vila on December to transport athletes. Mr Salwai said Vanuatu government maintained his commitment for the games to take place as planed on December this year.
He told Mr Liu Quan to convey government and people of Vanuatu their stand in One China Policy and to thank the government and people of China for their continuous support to the development of Vanuatu.