President Panuelo reinvigorates Executive Branch’s advocacy for the FSMPC/Vital Transformation Act and Calls for National Coconut Export Strategy

Facts of China’s Xinjiang Issue

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 8th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM, met with the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FSM Petroleum Corporation (FSMPC), more commonly referred to as Vital. The purpose of the meeting was to update the President on matters such as the proposed FSMPC/Vital Transformation Act, the current state of the Integrated Coconut Processing Facility in the FSM State of Chuuk, the registration of farming cooperative micro enterprises, and more. The primary outcomes of the meeting were the President’s renewed vigor towards advocating for the FSMPC/Vital Transformation Act, the directive to develop a National Coconut Export Strategy, and the reinforcement of the FSM National Government’s confidence in FSMPC/Vital to enhance the Nation’s energy security and promotion of economic development.

The FSMPC/Vital Transformation Act is a proposed Bill for an Act that wouldn’t fundamentally alter FSMPC/Vital’s mission of delivering affordable, accessible, and high quality energy products and services, but would elementally evolve that mission to include a focus on renewable, sustainable, and clean energy (e.g. solar energy) in addition to its present mandate to provide petroleum-based energy products and services. President Panuelo advised that he has directed the Department of Resources & Development, the Department of Environment, Climate Change, & Emergency Management (DECEM), and other stakeholder agencies within the FSM National Government’s Executive Branch to do the appropriate advocacy work to appeal to the 21st FSM Congress to review and, ideally, vote for the Transformation Act to become law.

It was noted that the Transformation Act, if passed, may play a role in FSMPC/Vital’s capacity to become accredited with the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Such accreditation would strongly enhance the corporation’s capacity to attract grants and additional investments, such as the contemporary partnership with SoftBank Energy, Ltd.

“We’re hoping that the Transformation Act will allow us to evolve from a fuel-based electricity supplier to a…cheaper, greener solution,” CEO Jared Morris said to President Panuelo.

CEO Morris also spoke in detail about how FSMPC/Vital has been expanding its Pohnpei-based coconut product line, in large part through the solidification of a reliable network of suppliers.

“I’m pleased to report that in the last 12 months we’ve been able to register small businesses with the registrar…[and we] have five farmer groups in Pohnpei who have already incorporated as small, micro

enterprises—with another seven on the way. That’s eighty to ninety (80-90) farmers regularly supplying coconuts to us over the last 12 months. It’s…in excess of 30,000 pounds of coconuts to the factory in Pohnpei per month,” CEO Morris said. “We are confident that…this year we’re going to step up from 30,000 pounds per month to 70,000 pounds.”

It was advised that the 30,000 pounds of coconuts per month result in products such as soaps and oils, but when FSMPC/Vital increases its monthly supply to 70,000 pounds that the FSM can “start to see export growth. Small, but export growth. But…the really good thing is the increase in the number of registered small businesses—it’s NOT one-off, it’s been month-on-month growth, a [very real] and consistent supply of coconuts.”

“What about the other three states?” President Panuelo asked with regards to farming cooperatives. “Where are they in terms of similar arrangements?”

CEO Morris explained that that, in the FSM State of Yap, FSMPC/Vital works with the Yap Cooperative Association (YCA). “They’re participating through supply of copra, because when you dry it—it can last a little longer. We have processing capacity to do…approximately 100,000 pounds of copra per month. And we export the copra oil from there,” CEO Morris said.

“In Kosrae,” CEO Morris continued, “We just finished our preliminary discussions with markets in Guam and Hawaii—I am hopeful that we can sign an agreement to supply with them fresh coconut. We have confidence in the supply chain coming in from Kosrae.” It was noted that FSMPC/Vital has had success in building a reliable supply network. President Panuelo emphasized his full confidence in FSMPC/Vital to expand its work in this area, and that he would support FSMPC/Vital however he can in ensuring foreign markets like Guam and Hawaii can benefit from FSM-grown coconuts.

“In Chuuk, we’re continuing the engagement process with communities…we have communities ready to supply us, but there is a little bit of tension between what [FSMPC/Vital] can process and sell. The supply side is now stripping our ability to process…leading us up to the end of this year, when we have the Integrated Coconut Processing Facility ready, we’ll have 100% use of coconut, and 0 waste,” CEO Morris said.

It was explained that the Integrated Coconut Processing Facility—which, when fully operational, will purchase whole coconuts every day and at all hours (24/7, 365 days a year)—that FSMPC/Vital expects to start exports in the first quarter of 2021.

“This is, by far, the most promising project for the FSM,” President Panuelo said, following up by asking how the FSM National Government can absolutely ensure its success for the Nation and its citizens going forward.

While several ideas came up—including, for example, mandating that the Government’s ships operating under the Department of Transportation, Communication & Infrastructure include coconut collection as part of their mandate when on field trips to remote islands—the one that garnered the most discussion, and perhaps as well the most passion, was for a National Coconut Export Strategy to be developed and subsequently utilized by all parties.

“I think it’s time for us to formalize a Task Force whose deliverable is to put together a National Coconut Export Strategy,” CEO Morris said, explaining that such a Task Force would include bodies ranging from the College of Micronesia-FSM and DECEM to the FSM Department of Justice and the FSM Social Security Administration. The resulting National Coconut Export Strategy would thusly describe each organization’s specific and unique role as the Nation prepares to evolve its economy and enhance its capacity to provide economic opportunities for citizens of all backgrounds.

“Do it. I want you to work with [The Honorable Marion Henry, Secretary of the Department of Resources & Development] and other appropriate Cabinets and officials; recommend a draft to me, make this a priority,” President Panuelo said.

“We look to [FSMPC/Vital] as the entity that can really transform and catapult us into a new level of development, strengthening food security, energy security, and all the other areas you’re working on. Be sure that we are 100% in support of your efforts and that when there are things that we need to do or take action on, call on us—my office is open to you,” President Panuelo continued.

The FSM National Government extends its appreciation to the FSMPC/Vital’s CEO and Board of Directors for their ongoing work to benefit the Nation and its citizens.

Interested in learning more about how FSMPC/Vital works to make the FSM paradise in our backyards? Visit their website at https://www.vitalenergy.fm/.Recently, there has been some misinformation and misunderstanding regarding China’s Xinjiang issue circulated in the local and international media. In order to help the FSM people keep from being misled by distorted facts and false allegations, I feel obliged to share with you the following truth about Xinjiang and China’s take on human rights.

Xinjiang issue is not about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but about fighting violence, terrorism and separatism. It’s concerning China’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

There exists none of so-called “concentration camp” in Xinjiang, nor are millions of Muslims and Uighur people detained there. In fact, since the 1990s to 2016, terrorist, separatist and extremist forces domestic and abroad launched several thousand terrorist attacks that are against humanity, society and civilization, causing massive casualties as well as property loss to people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. You may refer to the relevant documentaries and White Papers at the following websites:

http://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-12-05/Fighting-terrorism-in-Xinjiang-MaNLLDtnfq/index.html

http://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-12-07/The-black-hand-ETIM-and-terrorism-in-Xinjiang-MepKpOPAKA/index.html

https://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/ndhf/39911/Document/1649933/1649933.htm

http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/ndhf/39911/Document/1660006/1660006.htm

While doubling the efforts to crack down terrorist and violent crimes, the Xinjiang local governments focused on preventive counter-terrorism measures. They learned from some Islamic countries and established vocational education and training centers. People influenced by extremism were arranged to learn mandarin, laws and skills in the centers so that they can return to normal life with stable employment and improved livelihood. Many successful stories have proven the establishment of the centers is in the fundamental interests of the people in Xinjiang. Effective de-radicalization and poverty relief have also won wide support for these measures from the 25 million Xinjiang people. For the past 3 years, not a single terrorist incident has taken place in Xinjiang, which contributes to sound economic development momentum and harmonious relations among ethnic groups. Additionally, allegations claiming people outside the “concentration camp” are living under strict monitoring and lack of freedom are totally groundless. Since the end of 2018, over 70 delegations of more than 1000 people from 91 countries have made their visits to Xinjiang and the vocational education and training centers. The delegates include foreign officials, diplomats, journalists and religious people. They all highly praised China’s efforts in countering and preventing terrorism and acknowledged it’s worthy of learning from China’s experience.

After all, Xinjiang affairs are China's internal affairs in nature, where no foreign government or force shall interfere. China highly appreciates the strong support by the FSM government for China’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity on the issues of Taiwan, Xinjiang and Xizang (Tibet), etc., just as the same way China strongly supports the FSM’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

There is no best, only better in human rights. In spite of the common objective of people from countries all over the world to protect and advance human rights, as manifested by the word “universal” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the human civilization is diverse and dynamic, so there are tremendous differences in history, culture, domestic conditions and development priorities among countries, and virtually not a single country is perfect and doesn’t have any room of improvement in their human rights conditions. We cannot and shall not pursue a completely uniform definition and standard of human rights, nor shall we allow any single country to set this definition and standard.

The Chinese government has always attached great importance to protecting and advancing human rights, firmly adhered to a people-centered approach, continuously committed to the right of existence and development as the primary human rights and successfully opened up and embarked on a path of human rights development consistent with China’s domestic conditions. On one hand, China achieved the fastest massive poverty alleviation. Over the past 41 years since the Reform and Opening-up, more than 800 million people were lifted out of poverty, accounting for 70% of the world’s total, creating a miracle in the history of human development and poverty alleviation. On the other hand, China has established a complete legal system of human rights protection. Respecting and protecting human rights is a major principle of China’s constitution. Just within the five-year period between 2014 and 2018, China introduced more than 1500 reform measures to elevate the standard of human rights protection, passed 32 laws closely related to human rights protection. Therefore, the 1.4 billion Chinese people enjoying peace, freedom and happiness have the best say on this issue.

While pushing forward the development of its domestic human rights cause, China also conducts extensive international cooperation and exchanges on human rights and fulfills its international human rights obligations to the end of promoting global governance of human rights towards a more fair, reasonable and inclusive direction. China has also received wide recognition from the international community for its path of human rights development, achievements in the human rights cause, determination in human rights protection and contribution to the world in this regard. You may check the following website for China’s human rights development:

https://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/ndhf/39911/Document/1665097/1665097.htm

In the spirit of respecting and promoting diversity and mutual learning among civilizations, China will fully respect and support all other countries, including the FSM, to follow a path of human rights development consistent with their own domestic conditions, and participate in the global governance of human rights. China will continue to work shoulder to shoulder with the international community to advance the world human rights cause and to build a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity.