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‘We Must Kowtow To China: Silk Robes, Slippers and In-Room Noodle Service:’ MAPP

BEIJING — Governor Kenneth E. Mapp dubbed his trip to China a success as he briefed those assembled at Government House in St. Thomas on Tuesday.

Mapp said that the trade mission to China was part of his multi-faceted approach to economic development.

The governor also noted that these are in no way meant to replace the current plans that are already in effect for the growth of the territory’s economy.

The government boondoggle team said it “explored industrial development related to storage and refining activity, tourism development as a result of Sinopec investments, the financial service sector businesses related to EDC benefits and private investment for the development of hotels on both St. Thomas and St. Croix.”

Mapp highlighted Sinopec’s plans along with significant investments for the big island of St. Croix. He said that Sinopec’s investment in the Virgin Islands will result in hundreds of new jobs for the territory.

The one-term governor offered measured indication of the scope of the Sinopec commitment by describing the increase in storage capacity as “north of 50 million barrels.”

“The Beijing-based company plans to invest in increased oil storage capacity at the Limetree Bay Terminal site on St. Croix’s south shore. They are currently assessing the equipment and facilities in anticipation of the possibility of resuming refining at the former HOVENSA site.”

Mapp said that while in China the delegation visited an older refinery operation that had been fully modernized by Sinopec. He also said that he anticipated receiving a formal proposal from the company that includes details about employment opportunities.

“There is a commitment to get this in full gear over the next three years,” he said.

Commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, was a part of the ill-fated delegation meeting with some prominent companies in the Chinese travel sector. She is also working to develop a relationship with Air China which will begin to attract Chinese tourists to the territory, Mapp reported previously.

Mapp claimed that “additional visitors from China are anticipated with Sinopec’s expanded investment in St. Croix.”

The U.S. Embassy reported that more than 10 million visas are issued annually to Chinese nationals visiting the United States, with more than three million granted to those traveling for pleasure.

Mapp said that some of the unique amenities that are required by the typical affluent Chinese traveler are luxury robes, slippers, and access to in-room noodle service.

Chinese tourists, who typically want to engage in high-end shopping experiences, like those in Plaza Las Americas in Puerto Rico, would expect options for dining that include traditional-to-them food menus, including exotic animals to eat.

Chamber of Commerce Board Member, Shane Gaspard, took the podium and said his recent trip to China as part of the trade mission led by Mapp gave him a “new perspective” on the focus and “hard work” put in by the governor and his staff as they engaged in a full schedule of meetings with officials and business leaders.

“I think the business community should be very excited about the steps we took in China”, Gaspard said. “I know I am.” Gaspard, who is the chief operating officer for Southland Gaming, was among the private sector participants in the trip along with St. Croix Chamber of Commerce President, Kimberly McCollum, who is also the owner of Island Services Group.

McCollum said she looked forward to imagined additional investment and business activity on St. Croix.

“I personally spoke with representatives of Sinopec and Unipec and they are very sincere,” McCollum said.

McCollum said she was also pleased by Sinopec’s stated commitment to environmental protection at the storage terminal and refinery.

China has a long history of flying in the face of established world health and environmental concerns.

The Communist nation has largely ignored accepted human-protection policies to the point where its own people have to wear smog masks to breathe in major cities.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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