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Marine Resources minister Bishop won’t talk to Cook Islands News

By Rosie Manins RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Oct. 22, 2011) - Cabinet minister Teina Bishop is on a three-pronged trip to China in his capacity as minister of marine resources, education and tourism for the Cook Islands.

He departed Rarotonga on Thursday evening and is due to return on November 12.

Bishops chief executive, George Turia, says the trip involves government relations in respect of fisheries, tourism and financial services and education.

Details of Bishops trip remain private due to the sensitivity of topics to be discussed, Turia says. We dont want to preempt anything.

Bishops trip is so sensitive that earlier this week Turia threatened to cut off all access to Bishop by Cook Islands News when an article was published alongside a photograph of Bishop and controversial Chinese businessman Jack Chen.

Chen, who faces bribery and money laundering charges, visited the Cook Islands earlier this year when he met Bishop and other senior industry leaders.

This weeks article, about Chens business ties to the Cook Islands, potentially jeopardised Bishops trip to China, Turia claimed in a letter of complaint.

"This (article) in my view is distasteful and I will not allow him (Bishop) to be exposed to your newspaper in future unless you do a retraction or apologise. Unless that is done, access to him by you is restricted forthwith," Turia said in an email to CINews managing editor John Woods.

On the first part of his China trip, Bishop is accompanied by another Cook Islander, although Turia does not say who that is. The second phase is one Bishop will conduct alone, before he is met by a Cook Islands delegation towards the end of his visit.

That group will include infrastructure minister Teariki Heather, says Turia.

They will travel to Guangzhou the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province for a cultural festival.

Turia says Bishop will talk publicly about the trip upon his return.

The trip was planned four or five months ago, and is the reason Bishop opted out of Prime Minister Henry Punas recent official state visit to the Peoples Republic of China.

Heather was part of the delegation on that trip, as well as associate agriculture minister Kiriau Turepu and acting infrastructure and planning secretary Donye Numa.

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