China to lend $1b to Pacific island nations

Updated: 2013-11-08 23:41

By XU JINGXI in Guangzhou and ZHAO YANRONG in Beijing (China Daily)

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Measures to aid social and economic development as well as infrastructure

Vice-Premier Wang Yang announced a series of measures on Friday to support the economic and social development of Pacific island countries, including an infrastructure loan of $1 billion.

Wang made his announcement at the second China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. China's support will go toward Pacific island countries that have diplomatic relations with the nation.

Besides the loan to be issued by China Development Bank specially for infrastructure construction, China will issue a concessional loan of $1 billion to support the construction of major projects.

China will also offer 2,000 scholarships over the next four years to train local technicians. Another measure will help build medical care facilities and send Chinese medical teams to these countries.

China will also increase trade in the agricultural and forestry sectors and will continue to run model farms in local communities to help them learn about Chinese farming methods. Lastly, green energy facilities of hydropower, solar energy and biogas will be provided.

"Developing a good partnership with the Pacific island countries is a long-term strategy in China's diplomatic work. We are willing to work with all Pacific island countries to establish a good example in South-South cooperation," Wang said.

He said challenges such as climate change are major concerns for Pacific islands, adding that China understands the special situation that these countries face. "China wants to cooperate with these countries to improve how environmental problems are tackled," he said.

As many as 150 Chinese companies have invested in Pacific islands, with about $1 billion in non-financial direct investments. Chinese projects in countries with diplomatic relations with the nation have reached $5.12 billion. By September, 3,600 government officials and technicians from certain island countries have received training in China, said Wang Chao, assistant minister of commerce.

Tuiloma Neroni Slade, secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, said China has always been one of the most important partners for the Pacific islands.

"Since becoming the partner country of the forum two decades ago, China has provided a lot of support to the Pacific islands in education, information technologies, infrastructure and transportation," said Slade, as quoted by the Nanfang Daily.

"It's also important to establish cooperation between China and Pacific island countries in forestry, fishery, trade, tourism and new energy technologies."

Lord Tu'ivakano, prime minister of Tonga, praised China's support in training Tonga's navy fleet.

"With China's support, more families in Tonga have begun using biogas. We use more new energy to achieve sustainable development in agriculture," he said.

Henry Puna, prime minister of the Cook Islands, said the country's relations with China are based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

China, the Cook Islands, and New Zealand jointly signed an agreement to create a water supply system for the Rarotonga, the most populous island of the Cook Islands. It will be the country's largest infrastructure project.