22 August 2023
I quote the following article from the Solomon Star newspaper.
"The Government of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) very recently handed over the 2023 Pacific Games Stadium project to the Solomon Islands Government.
The handing ceremony was held at the national sports stadium at the King George Sixth Westend Sports Park.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his address described the handing over as another piece of history in the relationship between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Solomon Islands Government.
“Thank you very much to join us for this historic event.
“This is another piece of history as we celebrate the completion and handing over of the Pacific Games stadium project.
“This is a gift from the Peoples Repulic of China to the Solomon Islands Government and the relationship between the two Governments is taken to new heights,” the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledged the work done by contractor CCECC and CSADI despite the many challenges they faced during months of work.
“What the contractors have achieved in 26 months due to the challenges is nothing short of a miracle.
“Thank you CCECC for tireless effort and commitment to make sure it’s completed ahead of time,” PM Sogavare said.
The Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China to the Solomon Islands, His Excellency Li Ming said the Stadium project is the best gift from the Government and people of China to the Solomon Islands.
“Today is indeed a day of significance.
“The stadium is the best gift from the Government and the people of China.
“It’s the best gift and at the right time.
“After the handing over, the national stadium will belong to the people of Solomon Islands."
I very much hope the new national stadium after the Pacific Games are long over will be well maintained by the government and used as a venue for football matches and other sporting and field events and especially become a recognized place where health activities, particularly by youths, will be encouraged and actively promoted.
Much too often during earlier years in several African countries I have seen stadiums built by the Chinese fall into disuse and need repairs. I truly hope that kind of situation does not occur in the Solomon Islands and the new stadium must be seen as an investment for the future, if only for its benefits on health promotion and for the sporting attributes of its people.
My referral in the title to this post is because it has been claimed that China has been building sports stadiums in Africa at an increasing pace owing to its smart power—a combination of its values, cultural influences, and policies—alongside the unconditional economic incentives it gives African countries. The study examines the motives for and consequences of this policy—known as stadium diplomacy—as reflected through newspaper articles published in Chinese, African, and Western online news outlets. Chinese perspectives regard stadium construction as a springboard to increase China's hold on necessary raw materials and facilitate its access to emerging markets. African views are divided as to the benefits of the ties with China. Advocators maintain that the stadiums enable countries to host international sporting events and present a modernist image. Critics point at the discrimination against African labor and the fact that many stadiums are redundant, given that they mainly serve the interests of ruling elites.
I am not willing to be drawn in on such allegations but reminded of another popular saying "there is no such thing as a free lunch."
It is my genuine wish that the Solomon Islands puts the needs of its people first in all its policies, domestic and foreign, and dispel any thoughts that the new stadium is not, as some have been given to infer, similar to comments still being aired in some African countries.