17 May 2018

Cooks opposition questions Chinese presence ahead of election

10:11 am on 17 May 2018

The Cook Islands opposition is questioning the timing of a visit by the Chinese ambassador to open a school only weeks out from the general election.

Members of the Democratic Party met with Chinese ambassador Wu Xi to raise concerns about the timing of her attendance, two weeks ago, at the hand over of the Chinese-funded $NZ14 million Apii Nikao school project.

No caption

Photo: RNZ Pacific / Walter Zweifel

The party's deputy leader James Beer said it was irregular and improper for another country to provide such donations so close to an election and it seemed like part of a campaign tactic by the Cook Islands government.

"They did visit the Chinese ambassador and invited her to come over and open the school," Mr Beer.

"When they returned from the New Zealand state visit they then dissolved parliament and elections were called.

"So they knew very well when they were making the invitation, that the election was going to be called within days," he said.

Mr Beer said his party also raised with the ambassador the $NZ7 million worth of donations made by China during the 2014 election campaign, and the effect that had on the democratic process.

The Cook Islands general election is scheduled to be held on June the 14th.

Cook Islands Democratic Party member James Beer.

Cook Islands Democratic Party member James Beer. Photo: RNZI/Sally Round