Vanuatu caught out in Chinese business immigration plan | Pacific Beat

Vanuatu caught out in Chinese business immigration plan

Vanuatu caught out in Chinese business immigration plan

Updated 29 April 2014, 9:56 AEST

Vanuatu has welcomed two Chinese from Hong Kong who are the first to take out Vanuatu citizenship under the Capital Investment Immigration Plan.

They paid 2.7 million Vatu or 300-thousand dollars for their documents.

Vanuatu had hope the scheme would be a good money earner but China has told Vanuatu it doesn't accept dual citizenship.

The Chinese embassy in Port Vila has asked for the names of all Chinese who join the immigration plan so that it can revoke their Chinese citizenship.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Tony Wilson, editor, Vanuatu Independent

WILSON: That would appear to be the case. The government have of course put a different spin on it. They say it wasn't entirely aimed at the Chinese to begin with, it was aimed at anybody from any nation. But yeah I think there's been some problems with the government not perhaps realising that that was a long term Chinese policy of single citizenship.
EWART: And as you say it's not a policy which has come in overnight, this was I think established back in the 1940s or something like that, so it wouldn't have required that too much research on the part of the Vanuatu government to establish that?
WILSON: No that's right. They're saying that it's simply a business migration scheme and the people that do take it up, like the two Hong Kongese that have taken it up last week, don't actually have to take out citizenship to live and operate in this country. So that's one spin they've put on it. They're also saying that it isn't as I said not aimed only at the Chinese, although the rhetoric before this was really aimed at the Chinese, and they seem to be the big market. Now how many Chinese business people will be prepared to give up their citizenship I guess only time will tell.
EWART: So if it's not aimed specifically at China, the Vanuatu government now saying essentially it's open to anybody who feels inclined to come and live and work in Vanuatu?
WILSON: Yeah correct, they're saying the business migration scheme that they've adopted is exactly the same principle as the ones operating by Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, it's no different, it's just a business arrangement, and it's different to the scheme that's operating out of Hong Kong where people over there are buying residency so that they can then do business in Hong Kong. They're two separate issues. Now in the midst of all this the opposition have come out and they've claimed that there's Chinese authorities fearing that single entry Vanuatu visas are being used to launder money and smuggle people out of China. Where that comes from is hard to fathom, they say there's been some complaints from the Vanuatu embassy in Beijing by officials of the Chinese government to the diplomats from Vanuatu. But there's no backing up of that statement of laundering money and smuggling people. And given that only two people have so far taken up this program, it's pretty hard to understand where that's coming from.
EWART: So when the opposition label what the government has done as a gross diplomatic misdemeanour, I think is the phrase that's being used, they really need to substantiate this if they're going to get any traction?
WILSON: That's it there. They're saying that the whole thing is doomed to a major failure, they've even called on the Prime Minister to resign. But certainly the laundering and the people smuggling accusations of thus far got no substance.
EWART: Ok now another story which of course has been highly significant in Vanuatu for more than a month now is the aftermath of Cyclone Lusi, and I'm told that victims of the cyclone certainly in certain parts of Vanuatu are yet to receive assistance. So why not and how are they coping?
WILSON: Well clearly they're not coping too well because in a lot of those outer islands these people exist only with subsistence farming, and in many cases the cyclone wiped out their crops. So they're struggling just to put food on their tables in those islands. As to why the aid hasn't got there isn't clear, it's obviously is a case of out of sight out of mind. The aid has certainly got to a proportion of the island, and a lot of it is being driven by offshore charities. So exactly the reasons why are not clear at this stage, but it is a pretty poor state of events that weeks later there are people still struggling for the basics.
EWART: So at this stage based on what you've said there, we can't really point the finger at the government or the international aid agencies, plainly some more investigation is required to find out what's gone wrong?
WILSON: Well that's it, it could be a combination of all factors. But certainly one of the biggest problems in this country is communication, and in some of those outer islands it's next to non-existent at the best of times. And certainly when we have natural disasters it becomes an even bigger issue, and I'm not sure whether in some cases the message is getting through to the right people as to what is needed.
EWART: And aid is still coming in, is it in the aftermath of the cyclone, there is aid to be distributed, it's just not getting there?
WILSON: That's correct, yes.
EWART: So what do you think the government is likely to do about this? Will they be somewhat embarrassed about this do you think with the publicity surrounding the failure to deliver aid, because I suppose as far as the Vanuatu people is concerned, they will point the finger at the government as the first point of blame as it were?
WILSON: That's right, I think there'll be a degree of embarrassment and even anger. In the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Lusi the Prime Minister and the leading government members were seen on the ground as it were supporting the people that had been mostly damaged by this. And they were quick to do that in the first few days, and that response was pretty good. But that was in islands like Santo, which is a major island. So I'm sure there'll be a degree of embarrassment and I'm sure the Prime Minister will be asking a lot of questions and I would think you'll find that whatever aid is still sitting around, the wharves or warehouses of Port Vila will be moving within days.

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