Kiribati government mum on controversial image

Kiribati's Government is keeping mum about an image that could depict the country’s new Chinese Ambassador walking across the backs of children as part of his welcoming ceremony to the nation.

The photograph was shared as a tweet on Twitter by inveterate New Zealand-based Pacific journalist, Michael Field.

“A rather striking picture has come out from Kiribati causing drama on its social media,” Field stated in a caption accompanying the photo published in “The Pacific Newsroom” group on Facebook.

The children, seemingly all boys are depicted lying face down on the ground, with the Ambassador walking across them.

“It’s arguable whether he is walking on them, or in [the] space between them,” said Field.

Questions were sent via e-mail to Tearinibeia Enoo-Teabo, the Republic’s President’s Senior Communications Officer, Taneti Maamau’s, but as of press time on Monday, no reply was received.

“It shows the new Chinese Ambassador, Tang Songgen, apparently being welcomed off a plane at an outer island,” Field said. 

Field explained that “variations of this custom occur around the Pacific – most notably in Tonga – but in the twenty-first century it is rather odd. “

“And why the Ambassador took part in such a colonial custom is a mystery,” said Field.

The event was part of a welcome that took place last week at Marakei, Field said.

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