Guam – Buildup Committee Chair Senator Judi Guthertz has written a letter to President Barack Obama asking for his help in getting a visa waiver for Chinese tourists who want to visit Guam.
In her letter, Guthertz says the Guam economy has been dealt “twin blows”; the freeze on funds for the Guam buildup and the continued refusal of Homeland Security to grant visa waivers to Chinese tourists.
In her letter, Guthertz argues that the security concerns that some in the Pentagon may harbor about having Chinese tourists come to Guam visa free are unfounded. She points out that a visa waiver is already in effect for Hong Kong residents and if the Chinese wanted to send spies here they could do so through Hong Kong. And “ no security breaches involving Hong Kong tourists have been experienced to date,” she writes.
Guthertz concludes that “at this critical time we need your advocacy as our President in support of the visa-waiver program to enable tourists from China to visit Guam.”
READ Senator Guthertz’s releae in FULL below:
December 21, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SENATOR GUTHERTZ TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: CONGRESSIONAL BUILDUP FREEZE, CHINA TOURISM DELAY TOUGH ON GUAM ECONOMY
Guam Military Buildup Committee Chairperson Judi Guthertz has asked President Obama for help for Guam in light of the twin blows of a Congressionally imposed freeze on funds for the Guam military buildup and the as yet unexplained continued refusal of Washington to allow Chinese tourists to visit the island.
“Senator McCain has declared that the ‘buildup’ is still alive, but now in a ‘pause,’ Senator Guthertz wrote to the Chief Executive. “Mr. President, you need to know that this ‘pause’ places the economy of Guam in peril.”
Meanwhile, the long awaited portion of the Guam visa waiver program opening the door to Russian tourists has been approved, but officials and tourism industry leaders continue to look to China visitors as the key to a major economic boost for the island.
Senator Guthertz told the President that it’s long been rumored that the Pentagon is harboring unknown security concerns about Chinese visitors, but Guthertz said local base commanders—at least publicly—have made no such objections:
“Each and every military installation on our island has individual security – fences topped by barbed wire, berms, roving patrols, and armed sentries at the gates.
Surely satellites can reveal anything to the Chinese that they could possibly desire to know about Guam.”
Since Hong Kong visitors already enjoy a visa waiver to visit Guam, Senator Guthertz suggested to President Obama that if the Chinese were primarily interested in spying, they could easily recruit operatives from this group. However, no security breaches involving Hong Kong tourists have been experienced to date.
“At this critical time,” Senator Guthertz said, “we need your advocacy as our President in support of the visa-waiver program to enable tourists from China to visit Guam.”