Posted by : Posted on : 03-Nov-2019

Solomon Islands: Navigating rights and custom practices in development operations and projects.

It has been reported, today, in an article I read in the Solomon Star newspaper, that Chinese investors are urged to respect the laws and customs of the people of the Solomon Islands.

 “The advice came from the Envoy for China-Pacific Islands Forum Dialogue Wang Xuefeng.

“Xuefeng explained that the Chinese Government is encouraging their competitive and credible companies to make investments in other countries.

But we strongly emphasis and urge them they must respect the laws and regulations of the host country and more so they must abide by the international rules.

“And we also remind them that apart from complying and respecting the local laws they must also respect the culture and local customs,” Xuefeng said.

“He further emphasized that only in this way any business can be sustainable and prosper.

“Xuefeng said that Chinese Government always encourages the Chinese companies to repay the local communities in terms of supporting their local needs.”

In terms of the MOU’s signed by the Prime Minister in Beijing recently, China committed to furthering the development and infrastructure of the Solomon Islands, very much like the US had similarly undertaken.

Some of the USA’s initiatives were hampered and prevented from getting off the ground due to land disputes, according to the retiring US Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, H.E. Catharine Ebert-Gray.

How then, given China’s assurances of respecting the laws and customs of the Solomon Islands, will China do any better than the USA managed to achieve when land rights and land ownership issues continue to impede developments at home?

With something as vitally important as the landing of the Coral Sea Cable to provide fast internet to the Solomon Islands there have already been challenges brought by landowners and one challenge still unresolved.

In the recent past landowner disputes have flared in respect of the Gold Ridge Mine, in the location and operation of air strips, in the logging and forestry industry, in mining and even at the Tina River Hydro Project.

I very much hope for the future and well being of all in the Solomon Islands that development and infrastructure inroads will proceed without undue upset and hindrance, and rights observed by all parties.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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