Tonga to open new dialysis centre next year

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the centre is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in April next year.

MOH also confirmed that there are about 50 patients in Tonga who urgently need the dialysis treatment and they will be the first to get treatments when the dialysis centre opens.

The ministry has also started training for specialist doctors in New Zealand.


China’s hospital ship visits Tonga amid growing competition in the Pacific

The military-run vessel staffed with doctors and nurses has spent seven days in the Nuku’alofa. Known as the Peace Ark, the ship has sailed to more than 40 countries since it was commissioned in 2008.Its current tour of the region includes Kiribati, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. The US runs similar military medical missions and its ship, Mercy, is due to visit Solomon Islands during the Pacific Games later this year.

China’s Hospital ship anchors in Nuku’alofa

It comes only days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Tonga, during which he expressed concern at China's influence in the Pacific.

Known as the "Peace Ark", the vessel belonging to the Chinese Navy, was received in a welcoming ceremony hosted by Tonga's Prime Minister Hu'akvameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni.


Tonga commissions new mini-grid generation system

King Tupou VI led the ceremony which included a plaque unveiling and site inspections for the project, which is due to be completed in December.

The Outer Island Renewable Energy Project is funding solar-powered systems on 'Eua, Vava'u and Lifuka in Ha'apai, four outer islands in the Ha'apai group, and on Niuatoputapu and Niuafo'ou islands.

It is building solar generating facilities with a total distribution capacity of 1.32 megawatts at peak use, which is expected to reduce diesel imports by an estimated 480,000 litres a year.


Emmanuel Macron warns of ‘Chinese naval bases’ in New Caledonia, as Antony Blinken calls out ‘problematic’ Beijing in Tonga

In New Caledonia, President Emmanuel Macron said “the way forward” is the province remaining a part of France.

The French president’s speech came on the same day US Secretary of State Antony Blinken touched down in Tonga, telling an audience in the capital Nuku’alofa that “we’re a Pacific nation”.

Both leaders are toured the Pacific as the geopolitical tension in the region intensifies.

The US and its allies are grappling with an increasingly aggressive China, with Beijing making inroads in countries such as Solomon Islands.

Pacific Explorer cruise ship visits Tonga

This was when the cruise ship, Pacific Explorer docked the port at Vuna Wharf Nuku'alofa on 25 July, after spending 12 hours in Vava'u waters on Monday.

A statement said “The tourists who were spotted venturing and exploring the streets of Nuku’alofa by foot on the one day visit.”

The Ministry of Tourism confirmed that the ship was carrying 3,053 people, including 2,185 cruisers and 868 crew members. A majority of the cruisers were Australians.

The cruise ship arrived four days after the Pacific Encounter departed.


The U.S. dedicates a new embassy in Tonga in a bid for more influence in the Pacific

"President Biden is fully committed to working with Tonga, and with all Pacific Islands, to usher in an era of even closer collaboration to deliver on the issues that matter most to our people — rooted in mutual respect and mutual trust," Blinken said during a news conference after meeting with Tongan officials, including Tongan Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku, also known as Siaosi Sovaleni.

US-China competition: Blinken heading to New Zealand, Tonga, Australia

The State Department said Blinken would also attend the Fifa Women’s World Cup in Aotearoa.

But first, he will dedicate the US embassy in Tonga on Wednesday – a move many experts say is part of Washington’s plan to counter China’s growing influence in the Pacific.

In February, the US reopened its embassy in the Solomon Islands after a 30-year absence and is planning missions in Vanuatu and Kiribati.

Blinken will meet Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Over 2,000 students to receive new school bags in Tonga

The new bags were donated by the Guangdong People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall.

A statement confirmed that the bags will be distributed amongst 42 schools.

GPAFFC President, Zhu Gudian said “We hope this donation will contribute to the education cause in Tonga.”

Present at the ceremony were GPAFFC delegates, President of the Pacific China Friendship Association Dr Hiria Ottino, school principals and students.

LPG gas price goes up in Tonga

The new ad-hoc LPG prices were to reflect the LPG Annual Price Review Report 2022 approved by the Tonga Competent Authority on Monday 10 July 2023.

The new retail prices for Tongatapu and Vava’u will increase by TOP 0.03/KG and TOP 0.05/KG.

TCA also advised that Tongan retail prices for all petroleum products remain unchanged except for Kerosene as compared to the price for June – July 2023.