‘CNMI loyalty remains with US’

Hofschenider to US: Let’s be economic partners, diversify CNMI’s economy

A Tinian senator during a recent trip to Washington, D.C. reiterated the Commonwealth government’s position in doing business with a large Chinese company is for the welfare of its residents and that insinuating otherwise is a slap in the face to U.S.-CNMI federal relations.

Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) in a meeting last week with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in the nation’s capital expressed “concerns” over a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report regarding the presence of China in the Micronesia region as a whole.

The report also included statements from former Marine Corp commander Lt. Gen. Wallace “Chip” Gregson.

The report linked local opposition to components of the CNMI Joint Military Training proposal to Chinese investments in the region.

“Our loyalty and allegiance to the United States should not require that we forego the desire to secure economic stability for the CNMI. Our support of the casino industry comes from the desire to ensure that pension and other obligations are paid and essential government programs and services continue,” said Hofschneider in a statement from his office.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, in a separate statement, said it is the responsibility of local leaders to provide resources and government services to CNMI residents. He noted that efforts are continuously exerted in order to create an environment that provides both jobs and sustainable revenue for government operations.

“We are proud members of the American community, but due to the difficulties involved in operating a successful enterprise in a region that is geographically distant from the U.S. mainland and in need of economic growth, foreign investment is a necessary and important component of our plans toward increasing the standards of living for our people,” Torres said, before expressing gratitude toward Hofschneider for meeting with Murkowski.

Hofschneider added that he finds it insulting that the CNMI has gotten flak for seeking foreign investment to help improve its economy and the livelihood of its people.

“Equivocating our welcome of Chinese investments, or any other foreign investments for that matter, which have been fueling the CNMI’s economy to disloyalty or ignorance of our national security needs is both an insult and a disservice to U.S.-CNMI federal relations.”

Hofschneider noted the importance of the “CNMI’s perspective” on the issue to debunk the “false narrative that is being fueled to serve no other purpose than to create fear and divisiveness.”

“National security policy considerations for our region should include efforts to promote economic stability as part of the overall national security strategy. Let’s be more than national security partners. Let’s be economic partners and diversify the CNMI’s economy,” said Hofschneider.

The USCESRC report noted the possible implications of China’s presence in the Micronesia region pertaining to U.S. military defense interests. The report noted that several analysts remain concerned over the China’s influence in the region relating to U.S.-Federated States of Micronesia relations. These include relationships to Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, among others.

“The rapid growth in Chinese investment and influx of Chinese tourists—bringing record economic growth to the CNMI—is also fueling opposition to U.S. Department of Defense plans by business executives, local politicians, and residents,” the report stated.

“If Chinese activities deter the United States from carrying out its plans for the CNMI, it will contribute to China’s goal of weakening U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific,” it added.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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