We’re being misled by people who have no idea what they’re talking about regarding China

By Mabel Doge Luhan

“It’s mind-boggling,” Kimberlyn King-Hinds told the Variety as they hungrily lapped up every one of her words without challenging it.

What, exactly, is mind-boggling? Oh, right, the headline tells us: the “Objection to Chinese tourists.”

Not that Bryan Manabat would know, but what objection to Chinese tourists? Where?

As Ms. King-Hinds might remember from law school, the CNMI is categorically prohibited from having its own foreign policy. We can’t bar anyone, nor even really “object” to anyone — especially insofar as everyone in the CNMI, even tourists, is entitled to equal protection under the law.

So if the CNMI really is “objecting” — or, as KKH hints, barring — Chinese tourists, this would be a serious Constitutional matter. She should bring it up with SCOTUS, not Bryan Manabat! (Admittedly, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference.)

How exactly is the CNMI “objecting” to the Chinese tourists that the mainland US “welcomes?”  Oh. By not begging for an exemption from mainland US flight caps. But didn’t KKH say we should be doing what the mainland US does?

Kimberlyn King-Hinds

And that’s what the Palacios administration has been doing. Chinese tourists, like all other tourists, are free to enter the CNMI. Of course. The Palacios administration has no power to bar anyone, nor even “discourage” anyone. In fact, EVS-TAP is a million times easier as a hurdle than the visa that would be required for Chinese tourists to enter the rest of the US. Governor Palacios has supported that policy — a policy that is more open to Chinese tourism than the mainland US.

So it’s about the flight caps? Or about CPA landing fees? Or something or other? Or maybe just trying to capitalize on current economic woes for her political campaign?

The funniest thing about this argument of “The economy is bad, so blame it on Palacios for ‘kicking out’ Chinese tourists” is that it assumes that somehow if Governor Palacios were not in power, hordes of Chinese tourists would be coming to the CNMI.

Now, knowing anything about China and its citizens’ travel patterns is admittedly a bit out-of-scope for our self-proclaimed experts on Chinese tourism. But do you know anything about what China’s economy and consumer spending look like nowadays? And how strongly the government there is “pivoting” toward domestic tourism? Did you know that they’re actually limiting the issuance of passports, as well as of exit visas (yes, PRC citizens need an exit visa to travel abroad)?

This isn’t a “training” in Waikiki, a “seminar” at a five-star resort, nor a Facebook video, but maybe you could read it:


In fact, maybe even the MVA could read it, as it’s a lot more relevant to their job than the keynote speeches by Riyadh Air in Malaysia that they’ve been spending our money to attend “for educational purposes.”

At least the Economist Intelligence Unit is a lot more succinct than John Lee, whose histrionics in today’s Saipan Tribune LTTE go on and on and on some more. I pictured him angrily sucking down a cigarette while typing this out. There were quite a few knee-slappers, but perhaps best was: “In the face of this unprecedented crisis, any policy that does not address the immediate economic needs of the CNMI is unwise and alarming.”

Unprecedented crisis? Are you new here? Maybe not, since you manage to slip in a tip of the hat to your buddy Si Rafet! Now that’s unwise and alarming, like a seven-dollar coffee!

And then there’s this:

“Whether it be to amend Article 12 to allow longtime residents and/or businesses in Garapan core or other critical districts of the CNMI to take ownership of property, this administration must do things differently in a radical way to encourage immediate, long-term, and reliable investments in order to avoid collapsing the Commonwealth into a valueless, destitute colony of the United States.”

I had to call in Terry Eagleton and a Detry sewage truck to try to parse this sentence, and I AM PROUD OF MYSELF FOR NOT DRY-HEAVING AT THE HISTRIONICS.

So it’s suddenly all about Article 12? For the good of the people, right? As a totally disinterested observer who is not trying to build a real estate empire, right? And this somehow has to do with Governor Palacios and Chinese tourism? Friend, if you miss the hordes of teenage Chinese girls who used to visit your shop, just say so!

So what do we have here? Everyone maneuvering for their own interests, and somehow trying to use the current economic downturn as justification. Using Governor Palacios as a scapegoat, knowing that unlike his predecessor, he doesn’t have the mafia instincts to order a hit on any critics.

Meanwhile, all Governor Palacios has done is refuse to make the CNMI run by a shadow government of Chinese bribe-payers — which indeed is “unprecedented” but one hopes not “alarming,” and definitely not “unwise.” At least not unwise from the point of view of those of us who weren’t benefiting from that system. Unlike the two vocal critics we heard from today.


Mabel Doge Luhan is a woman of loose morals. She resides in Kagman V, where she pursues her passions of crocheting, beatboxing, and falconry.


  • CNMI Lawyer

      06/11/2024 at 3:58 PM

    Good word, Mabel Doge Luhan. Praise! Thank you for this perceptive commentary on the realities of People’s Republic of China (PRC) tourism. Let us hope that the Marianas Variety reporters, along with various and sundry commenters, take your insights to heart.

    Much that is written about PRC tourism is indeed ultimately self-interested, with scant basis in factual reality. Gambling is tearing CNMI families and society apart.

  • Sadog Tasi Resident

      06/11/2024 at 9:30 PM

    Dealing with the Chinese never ends well. All we need to do is look at that ridiculous IPI megastructure to realize that.

    As a USAF veteran – the governor’s stanc3 has my support. China is not a friend to the US or the CNMI – they are an adversary that we’ve been preparing for since Obama’s pivot to the Pacific.

  • Former Resident

      06/12/2024 at 12:08 AM

    KKH is over her head in the shallow end of the kiddie pool that is the CNMI. Imagine how she’ll flounder in the deep end of the pool that is Congress… Aiadei.

  • They Call Me Joe

      06/12/2024 at 2:21 AM

    If Mabel wonders why Mr. MVA (aka; size 13 shitkicker boots) has a propensity for travel to far off exotic locations (Malaysia), look no further than the Federal Register and what it has has to say about the EVS-Tap (01/18/2024). This statement was mentioned in the recent rules that were published (it concerns the former Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver program) – you will notice Malaysia was included?

    𝘛𝘳𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘨𝘦𝘰𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘤 𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘎-𝘊𝘕𝘔𝘐 𝘝𝘞𝘗: 𝘈𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘢, 𝘉𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘦𝘪, 𝘏𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘒𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘈𝘥𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘰𝘯 (𝘏𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘒𝘰𝘯𝘨), 𝘑𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘯, 𝘔𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘺𝘴𝘪𝘢, 𝘕𝘢𝘶𝘳𝘶, 𝘕𝘦𝘸 𝘡𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥, 𝘗𝘢𝘱𝘶𝘢 𝘕𝘦𝘸 𝘎𝘶𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘢, 𝘙𝘦𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤 𝘰𝘧 𝘒𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘢, 𝘚𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘢𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘦, 𝘛𝘢𝘪𝘸𝘢𝘯, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘜𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘒𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘥𝘰𝘮. 8 𝘊𝘍𝘙 212.1(𝘲)(2)(𝘪𝘪).

    Regardless, size 13 shitkicker boots should use common sense and realize “just because” a country is on the old list doesn’t necessarily make it a viable marketing target. By the way I once posted a comment (Variety) saying that the CNMI is going to need to reinvent itself after the pandemic. I believe the commenter “On The Deck” read it and agreed with what I had said, telling others in his reply comment “you hear that”? (paraphrasing). In other words, he agreed but it more than likely fell on deaf ears elsewhere (just like the diversifying the economy warnings over the years).

    Regardless, part of any “reinvention” requires thinking “way outside of the box” (of course in the CNMI that box is probably a coffin?) – and if the saying “don’t let a good crisis go to waste” holds any value, then I would suggest courting the French citizens and businesses that reside in “New Caledonia”. From what I understand, a good deal of them have had enough with the latest unrest and rioting (to put it mildly) and they want to leave the island but don’t want to go back to France. If you are not aware of what happened or what is happening in New Caledonia or it’s control by France, or where it is, then I suggest you do some google or youtube search mission on your own. I’m not going to do it for you or waste my time trying to help the CNMI on all the details (that’s like banging your head up against a brick wall). – If I was to make a suggestion, it would be to look into what visas are available for citzens of France (a U.S. ally) to enter the CNMI (invest or move their businesses to the CNMI as well). What’s the worst that could happen if someone tried to “advertise” that the CNMI (under the U.S. flag) could be a stable alternative to living in New Caledonia without all the “drama” yet still having a “tropical island environment? Just my opinion, but if it was my money, I would be more likely to drop some money on trying to market that idea rather than wasting money going to Malaysia and trying to sell coconuts to someone already growing coconuts? (analogy of selling ice water to eskimos).

    By the way, I honestly wonder if anyone at the MVA has a clue on how to market the CNMI by developing some co-op marketing partnerships or what I like to call using OPM (other peoples money)? If Korea is your biggest market, then I would be damn sure to have someone who knows how to approach businesses in Korea and see what could be hammered out for an agreement? Sorry if I’m not giving out specific details,but it’s not NOT MY JOB to educate or become an “enabler” for a bunch of slackers and grifters so they can continue to slip & slide on taxpayer money? Maybe start learning learning some new tricks? How’s that shampoo marketing working out for you? (rinse & repeat travel shows). That’s what I thought.

    I’ve said it in numerous Variety comments (over the many years) that I could probably help enlighten the CNMI on a whole host of opportunities that are being overlooked, but again – not my job, sorry.

    Enjoy your abyss.

  • They Call Me Joe

      06/13/2024 at 4:35 PM

    Re: Former Resident – (your comment).

    Someone is in over their head? And what will Propst bring to the table? A Facebook rant? Apologies, but I have nightmares about “Propst” (aka; boonie dog legislator) sitting in Washington. What can the CNMI expect from that imaginary scenario? A late night drunken rant against other Congressional members if things don’t go his way? (speculation, opinion). Give me a break. Maybe someone should have stuck to selling “tools” at the Honolulu Sears and Roebuck back in the day, or maybe (in the past few years) stuck to selling used cars at a CNMI dealership (smh). And don’t forget – a possible incoming “truth bomb” out of Hawaii concerning certain CNMI residents who once lived in Hawaii? Let’s see if someone from Hawaii can shed some light on certain CNMI residents who once resided there? Truth bomb incoming – right before November?
    Stay tuned and let’s see?

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