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Posts Tagged ‘Timor’

China reaches out to tiny, resource-rich East Timor

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 7:40 am

A jade elephant rears majestically in the corner as patrons tuck into their burgers and fries at one of only three US-style fast-food joints in East Timor, all of which are Chinese owned and operated.

The currency might be the same — the greenback is the unit used in East Timor — and the food is generic, but Brothers Burger restaurant in the dusty capital Dili is not just a slavish copy of its US progenitors.

Part of it is set aside for a compact little toy store, stocked to the rafters with games, gadgets and stuffed animals imported, of course, from China.

Against another wall is a selection of plastic, made-in-China jewellery.

And just in case diners need to leave the country after their meals, they can get their passport photos taken at a Chinese-made booth beside the back door.

Construction work by a Chinese firm begins on the East Timor ministry of defence and military headquarters in Dili

Manager Priscilla Soh said the restaurant’s owners, China-based Brothers Enterprises, specialised in “general supply” so it was only natural to combine the two-year-old eatery with some other sidelines.

“If you dare to come and dare to take the risk then you can earn a profit. I really encourage my Western friends who want to come and invest here,” she said.

As for her Chinese fiends, she said: “It’s not easy because there are too many Chinese here already.”

The burger joints form a meaty new middle layer of Chinese investment in East Timor, a resource-rich country of only around one million people which broke free of Indonesia in 1998 and remains dependent on foreign aid.

At the bottom end of the scale are typical family-run, shophouse-style businesses. At the other is the munificent hand of the Chinese state.

Beijing has lavished millions of dollars on a new presidential palace, a cavernous foreign ministry worthy of a country twice East Timor’s size, and a yet-to-be completed military headquarters.

The buildings are the most impressive new structures in Dili, and have raised more than a few eyebrows across the Timor Strait in Australia, which regards East Timor as part of its regional sphere of influence.

Professor Hugh White, of Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, told ABC radio last month that China’s interest in East Timor is “something Australia needs to pay attention to”.

“Australians have always, going right back into the 18th century, been very sensitive to the idea of major powers projecting force into our part of the world … ” he said.

Sections of the Australian media have made much of East Timor’s purchase in 2008 of two 1960s-vintage Shanghai Class patrol vessels for 25 million dollars, with dark mutterings about “growing military links between Beijing and Dili”.

East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta is a friend of Australia’s, but he openly scoffs at such fears.

“I can assure Australians that the East Timorese and China are not going to set up a navy and airbase to invade Australia,” he joked during a recent interview with AFP.

Mocking the “idiots who pass for strategic analysts in Canberra”, he said: “Australia can continue to live in peace, they don’t have to rush to learn Mandarin.”

The Nobel laureate noted that his country’s chief military relationship was with Australia, and complained of double standards from those Down Under who worry about China’s influence in East Timor.

“Australians never worry too much when they sell everything to the Chinese… yet when we buy a few little things from China they get upset, like they’re jealous,” he said.

The president added that, if anything, the ledger was in China’s favour, after East Timor awarded a large commercial contract to a Chinese company to build an electricity plant outside Dili.

“This is a 400-million-dollar project paid for exclusively by ourselves, so any aid that China has given us in the last 10 years you can multiply by 10 and it wont even reach the business deal that we signed with them,” he said.

Source: SGGP

Indonesia demands compensation for Timor Sea spill

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

JAKARTA, July 22, 2010 (AFP) – Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday demanded compensation for an oil spill off northwestern Australia that campaigners say destroyed fishermen’s livelihoods.

“Certainly we will carry out our responsibility to solve this problem. We’ll propose a claim to the company causing the oil spill while maintaining good diplomatic relations with the governments of Australia and Thailand,” he told a cabinet meeting.

“What’s clear is the company must give something as accountability for the incident,” he said, adding that Indonesians affected should “receive decent compensation”.

The Thai-operated West Atlas rig dumped thousands of barrels of oil into the Timor Sea between the Indonesian archipelago and Australia after a leak began in August last year.

Yudhoyono did not specify how much compensation Indonesia would seek from the rig, which is operated by PTTEP Australasia.

But local non-governmental group the West Timor Care Foundation, which supports poor fishermen in eastern Indonesia, has called for a figure of around 15 billion dollars.

Environmental group WWF says more than 400,000 litres (over 105,000 gallons) of oil have been spilt, generating a slick spanning 10,000-25,000 square kilometres (up to 9,650 square miles).

The West Timor Care Foundation estimates the spill as even larger and says it has affected the livelihoods of some 18,000 fishermen.

“Fish, dolphins and sea turtles were killed and the pollution posed health problems to the community. We don’t know how long it will take to heal the ecosystem,” said the group’s head Ferdi Tanoni.

WWF earlier said the spill was “one of Australia’s biggest environmental disasters”.

Source: SGGP

China showers gifts on resources-rich Timor

In World on September 14, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Dili‘s gleaming new Presidential Palace and Foreign Ministry, gifts from China, stand in stark contrast to nearby burned-out buildings and are symbols of how the energy-hungry superpower is growing closer to tiny, oil-rich East Timor.

In the 10 years since the independence vote that led to a split from Indonesia, China has spent more than $53 million in aid to East Timor, also known as Timor Leste.

While that is just a fraction of the $760 million in Australian government aid, China has raised its profile in dusty Dili in several other ways.

It is building big and showing generosity such as its donation of 8,000 tonnes of rice during a recent food crisis. Noticeable projects such as a new Ministry of Defense building, houses for soldiers and schools are underway as are scholarships and training programmes for civil servants.

In all, China is sending a very public message that it is serious about strengthening bilateral ties with East Timor, which many analysts put down to its desire to diversify strategic energy interests.

Loro Horta, who is a China expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and is the son of East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta, said that the aid is linked to China’s desire for energy and infrastructure contracts.

“The Chinese are desperate for oil, every single drop for them counts and they are definitely looking to Timor as potential to meet that need,” he told Reuters in a phone interview, adding that he estimated the total value of investments by Chinese companies in East Timor to be less than $400 million.

East Timor is one of Asia’s poorest and least developed countries, but it has enormous oil and gas reserves.

East Timor’s President Jose Ramos Horta (L) inspects Dili’s new presidential palace, a gift from China, with China’s ambassador Fu Yuancong August 27, 2009.

The Bayu Undan gas field is expected to reap $12-15 billion by 2023, the country’s Natural Resources Minister, Alfredo Pires, told Reuters in an interview.

Bayu Undan is already the subject of a deal between Australia and East Timor but other, untapped reserves still need development partners.

Another oil field, Kitan, has an estimated 40 million barrels of recoverable light oil, Pires said, and the Greater Sunrise field contains around 300 million barrels of condensate and 9.5 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to the United Nations.

Lucrative opportunities also exist in the minerals sector, including copper, gold, silver and marble, and for big-ticket infrastructure projects as East Timor tries to reverse years of under-investment.

Pires said Spain, China and Australia are all keen on a piece of the Timor resources pie, while East Timor expert Damien Kingsbury from Deakin University said the United States and the United Kingdom are also interested.

Source: SGGP

ADB, Japan help East Timor train public servants

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2008 at 7:52 am

Hanoi (VNA) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) with Japan’s funding will help develop the management and governance skills of the majority of East Timor’s 12,000 public servants.

The Japan Special Fund, through ADB, will provide a 500,000 USD grant to the initiative. The East Timorese government will provide an equivalent of 100,000 USD in materials and logistics support, ADB said in its press release issued on September 26.

ADB, in close coordination with the government and other development partners, has helped train 1,400 public servants in East’s 13 provincial districts since 2002.

“Building the capacity of public servants is essential in improving governance and restoring stability in East Timor-Leste,” Anne Witheford, ADB Governance Specialist was quoted as saying.

Through the training programmes, participants have gained skills in public administration, basic accounting, and project development and management. Feedback from trainees indicated that the programmes have significantly improved their delivery of basic services and enhanced their work performance, the press release said.-

Indonesia helps East Timor develop human resources

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Jakarta (VNA) – The Indonesian government will realise its commitment to helping build East Timor’s human resources capacity, particularly its foreign ministry’s human resources, an Indonesian diplomat said.

Indonesia needed to assist East Timor in three matters of human resources development, Antara news agency reported, citing Ambassador/Senior Technical Adviser on ASEAN Affairs to East Timor’s Foreign Ministry Agus Tarmidzi on September 19.

The three matters were human research and development, personal management planning and institutional as well as multilateral cooperation development planning, he said.

East Timor is now doing what it can in its bid for full membership in the Association of South Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Tarmidzi was in East Timor for the past few days to discuss technical matters and the form of assistance Indonesia would extend, Antara said.-