Samoa Observer Reporter, Vatapuia Maiava, is among a group of Pacific media representatives in China this week. They are there to honour an invitation by the Chinese Government to visit China’s mainland to improve their understanding of the relationship between China and the Pacific.
The trip also aims to provide the visiting group a firsthand experience of China; as it is the first time for majority of the participants to visit the country.
Other representatives include Fiji Suns journalist, Justine Mannan; Fiji’s Sunday Times Deputy Editor, Sailosi Bativatu; Matangi Tonga Online Sub Editor, Finau Fonua; Tonga’s Kalei Newspaper Editor, Ofa Ki Vatikani; P.N.G.’s Post Courier Editor, Todagia Kelola; Vanuatu’s Daily Post Journalist Anita Roberts; Vanuatu’s Daily Post Media Director, Dan McGarry; and Forum Secretariats Communications Advisor, Jordie Kilby.
Counselor Zhao Jian of the Foreign Affairs, Department of North American and Oceania affairs of China welcomed the group at his office in Olive Hall.
“This visit will provide a very good opportunity for our media guests to learn more about China, its people and its foreign policies,” he told Samoa Observer.
“We are responsible for the overall relations for the Pacific Islands.
“The formal relation between China and the Pacific Island nations began in 1975 when China established diplomatic relations with Samoa and Fiji.
“The following years we then saw diplomatic relations with many other Pacific Islands; now all together we have relations with 8 Islands in total.”
According to Counselor Zhao, there have been some really positive outcomes from the relations between China and the Pacific.
“Over the years we have seen good developments in various fields such as people to people links, economic and trade relations, education and also the exchange with media groups,” he said.
“The exchanges with media groups help to create deeper understandings; we have seen more and more exchanges like this and it’s good to deepen the understanding and friendship.”
Counselor Zhao continued to describe the importance of the relations China shares with Pacific friends and how the benefits will see a two-way flow.
“Relations with the Pacific Islands are based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence,” he said.
“The relations will have a basis on mutual respect and equality and also on the basis of mutual benefit.
“We always believe that all countries are equal, big or small, rich or poor so that’s why we think and believe that all countries in the South Pacific are partners of China and we hope to develop the mutual beneficial cooperation with each of the Island countries.
“Of course we always respect the social system and development paths chosen by the Island countries in accordance with the respective national conditions.
Counselor Zhao assured that there are no ‘strings attached’ to the assistance from China claiming that the focus remains on helping.
“In the Economic field, China has always tried its best to provide assistance to the Island nations; our assistance has no political attachments,” he said.
“This is one of the major differences between assistance provided by China and other nations.
“We have been working together with our friends in this region to uphold the legal rights for all Pacific Islands in the area of sustainable development and their participation in international affairs on an equal basis.”
China aims to try and continue the cooperation between themselves and the Pacific with their sights set on mutual benefits; according to Counselor Zhao media exchanges such as these will help strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two parties.
“In the past years we have seen some rapid developments in these relations,” he said.
“We want to work very closely with the Pacific Island counties in the areas of economic and technological cooperation and also in the international arena.
“We want to have a very good combination of the special techniques and development strategies within the specific conditions of the Pacific Countries.
“So in that way we hope to make real contribution to the social and economic development of the Island countries.
“We want to do more and we understand that the Island nations are faced with very special conditions in the today’s world of globalization.
“The bilateral relations have seen some really good momentum in the past year.
“We want more cooperation’s and more exchanges; with the further development of China’s economy we will be able to allocate more assistance with the Island Countries.”