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China in Micronesia

Okay, this is one of the most bizarre stories I've seen in a while: "China eyes huge tourism development for Yap". Essentially a private Chinese investment group is looking to build eight to ten hotel complexes with up to 20,000 rooms, and "convention centers, casinos and entertainment centers, and from eight to 15 golf courses." To put this into perspective, Wikipedia says that as of 2003 the population of Yap proper was 6,300 people. Compare and contrast to 20,000 hotel beds!

The story is very difficult for me to digest on any number of different levels. The development would completely transform the island in a physical way (It would require a huge increase in transportation infrastructure as well), not to mention the economy and culture. It really just doesn't make any sense on the surface. It goes against everything traditional Yapese culture stands for, especially the way that property is controlled and inherited.

Now, Yapese (and Micronesian) history since the 19th century has been one of a succession of colonial powers sweeping in and reshaping things: first the Spanish, then the Germans, then the Japanese, then the Americans. In a way, this would be just the next foreign imprint. I suppose what's so shocking to me is that I've really only known the American version of Yap, and that's what would be lost. But casinos and golf courses? It just seems surreal.

The other thing that strikes me about this is that Belau makes a lot more sense for this development. There's a lot more land, it's closer to China (at least somewhat), and Belau has always been more open to the outside world than Yap has. However, Belau recognizes Taiwan and not China. (That's why we sent some of the Uighur prisoners from Guantanamo to Belau, over Chinese demands that they be repatriated.)

I dunno. It's weird. This story feels like a trap door opening under my feet. The world turned upside down. My childhood swallowed by a Chinese casino.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 7th, 2011 12:17 am (UTC)
The slogan for the campaign against this development writes itself.
Oct. 7th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
Do tell!
Oct. 7th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
Do I need to? OK.

"China: Shut your Yap."
Oct. 7th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
I'd been thinking along the lines of "China's Yapping Up The Wrong Tree".
Oct. 10th, 2011 06:26 am (UTC)
I seem to recall we had a bit of a discussion a year or two ago about the way various countries dispense funds to Micronesia in order to obtain the support of the governments there. If I remember correctly China was using it's influence to thwart Japanese plans in regards to whaling as a favour to Australia. In a way this is the other shoe dropping as no doubt China is calling in favours over this.
Oct. 10th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
I don't remember that bit about whaling. Very interesting.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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