Report shocks diplomat, Samoa PM slams Australian journalist
Apia, SAMOA — An Australian newspaper article that reported plans by the Chinese government to fund the building of a wharf in Savai’i has shocked the Chinese Ambassador, and attracted a strong rebuttal from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.
The Australian newspaper on Monday reported that China is negotiating with the Samoa Government to fund the redevelopment of Asau wharf on Savai’i, a project which the newspaper claims will have major economic and strategic implications for Australia and the United States in the Pacific Islands.
China’s Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng, was shocked when approached by the Samoa Observer to comment, and said he was not aware of any negotiations between the two Governments.
“I have to check this news and I will answer you,” he said, before pulling the printed copy of the article out of the hands of the reporter, and pushed it into his pocket.
“I don’t know and I am not aware. I haven’t heard of this and I am not aware of the whole thing. I will read the news first.”
This newspaper has not heard from the Ambassador after that exchange, which took place on Wednesday, after the diplomat officiated at the handing over of medical aid valued at $500,000 to Samoa’s Ministry of Health.
The Prime Minister also rubbished the article by The Australian newspaper, saying his Government was only in discussions with China on the Vaiusu wharf.