“China or bust” push is pro-CCP agenda having little to do with tourism

Glen Hunter

By Glen Hunter

I have seen a few reactions to my previous opinion piece. I must address the misinformation in some of them and clarify my stance on tourism and economic diversification in the CNMI.

Since the governor took office in 2023, he has not enacted any laws or regulations that prevent tourists from China from visiting the CNMI legally. The accusations that the governor is against Chinese tourism or that he has actively stopped Chinese tourists from coming to our islands are false and misleading. These claims detract from the real issues and create unnecessary division within our community.

The governor has welcomed Chinese tourists to the CNMI, provided they come through legal channels. His administration advocates for a balanced approach that avoids over-reliance on any single tourism market. This strategy is not about rejecting Chinese tourists but ensuring our economy is resilient and diversified enough to withstand external shocks.

The COVID-19 pandemic and current geopolitical factors have starkly illustrated how vulnerable our tourism industry can be to external factors beyond our control. It is only prudent to learn from these experiences and make strategic adjustments to ensure the long-term stability and resilience of our economy. The governor’s focus is on diversifying our tourist market and developing new industries that are not solely dependent on tourism. This includes making necessary infrastructure upgrades and encouraging hotel and business groups to refine and enhance their offerings.

It is essential to allocate our limited resources wisely to avoid repeating past mistakes. By doing so, we can hedge against potential geopolitical risks that could disrupt the China tourism market once again.

The “China or Bust” mentality is not sustainable for the future of the CNMI and is extremely detrimental to our recovery. We must recognize that some local groups and individuals, influenced by decades of interaction with the PRC, may find this pivot uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it is sound business sense to adapt and seek more stable and diverse sources of economic growth.

We are all aware that the cessation of Chinese tourists visiting the CNMI occurred under the previous administration. Blaming the current administration for this issue is both unfair and inaccurate. The governor’s goal is to build a robust and resilient economy capable of withstanding external shocks, rather than being overly dependent on any single market.

The administration is committed to welcoming tourists from China legally while also pursuing a diversified and sustainable economic strategy. The focus on infrastructure improvements and product refinement aims to benefit all residents and businesses in the CNMI, ensuring a prosperous future less vulnerable to external disruptions.

Whether they realize it or not, groups like HANMI and the Chamber appear more focused on attempting to push pro-PRC messaging from our government than on finding sustainable solutions to our economic challenges. This aligns with the broader strategies I discussed in my initial piece, where certain local influencers are co-opted into single-mindedly promoting PRC solutions without critically assessing their long-term impact on our community.

It appears that not only are these individuals and groups solely focused on promoting the “China as the only solution” narrative but they may even be actively harming any other possible economic recovery solution. That is incredibly hard to watch. They will not champion or advocate any non-China-focused effort and will undermine and vilify those attempting to secure new markets or stand up new industries. Their underlying premise is not the betterment of the CNMI but the pro-PRC propaganda that they have been given marching orders to produce at all costs. The stakes in the region are high and sadly the true motivation for those willing to sacrifice our economic recovery is much larger than our little community.

The administration’s approach, on the other hand, is rooted in a clear understanding of the challenges we face and a commitment to making strategic decisions that will ensure the long-term prosperity of the CNMI. These efforts are geared toward creating a balanced, diversified economy that can withstand future uncertainties. All stakeholders need to come together in support of these efforts rather than perpetuating misconceptions that only serve to divide our community.

By embracing a more balanced and diversified economic strategy, we can ensure a more stable and prosperous future for all residents of the CNMI. Let us work together to build an economy that is resilient, inclusive, and capable of withstanding whatever challenges may come our way.


Glen Hunter is the governor’s special assistant for broadband policy and development. He is a resident of Saipan, a businessman, and a longtime outspoken critic of corrupt practices by CNMI politicians.


  • CNMI Lawyer

      06/11/2024 at 3:30 PM

    Good word, Special Assistant Glen Dale Hunter and Governor Arnold Indalecio Palacios. Praise!

  • Sadog Tasi Resident

      06/11/2024 at 6:59 PM

    The Chinese middle class is broke – they don’t have money to travel. Many lost their life savings with the implosion of the Chinese housing market. Others when the Chinese stock market tanked due to the tech crackdown. Then there is the general economic slow down due to COVID related policies.

    Furthermore, China is advocating Tourism within its own borders to generate economic activity internally.

    There is no future pursuing pro-CCP ventures.

  • They Call Me Joe

      06/12/2024 at 2:46 AM

    I take back and apologize for what I said about you needing to put your apron back on, or maybe you did put it back on to serve up a hot cup of truth? It’s refreshing to see a good “counter” argument (pun intended) for all those nimrods (slang) who have been playing the “blame game” on this issue in the media.

  • Russ Mason

      06/13/2024 at 1:33 PM

    I’m not convinced that our leaders are “making strategic decisions… for the future.”

    In order for that to occur, it requires a dirty word to be used; the dirty word is “Plan.”

    True leadership requires – not merely a plan – but a vision of what can be actually acheived in the coming months and years. Because, without a vision, there can be no plan, and, consequently, no real leadership.

    “This way, men!”
    “Where are we going?”
    “Hell, I don’t know!”

    What our leaders have done in the past, is to React to unfavorable events, with a wringing of hands and a cursing of fate.

    That is why our Governor, and others, stated that the CNMI is in “Desperation Mode.” This view was affirmed by the Chamber of Commerce and the MVA: The essence of Fatalism: “Oh dear, what will happen to us next?”

    An example of leadership might be to assemble, and to challenge, the sharpest minds in the Commowealth. How do we become prosperous without gambling? And, more importantly, how do we attract families to visit us?

    And yet, good ideas are easily gotten; the stumbling block is a Plan for implementation of these ideas. That requires a vision for implementation, and the collective Will to make it happen.

    So the real goal is not to make the Commonwealth prosperous, it is to make our island community so attractive to visitors that they will not only return, but will encourage their friends and relatives to also come here.

    But, before that, Saipan must be cleaned up. There are too many ramshackle buildings, seemingly everywhere, and the construction projects appear to be endless.

    But any improvement of the infrastructure must begin with a vision, closely followed by a plan of action. Without making our islands attractive, nobody will want to come here.

    If your house is a mess, who would want to visit you?

  • They Call Me Joe

      06/14/2024 at 1:33 AM

    Re: Russ Mason

    In all honesty, since I read your ramblings many many years ago in the local rag sheeeet (and the aftermath of you getting somewhat banned), I became a fan of the CoQ-10, so thank you. Hope you are doing well (regardless of my usual, artificial, and under the “slave of the grape” influence banter aside).


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