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China-Pacific Island Countries Forum Opens in Fiji
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The first Ministerial Meeting of the China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum opened in Nadi, Fiji, on Wednesday morning. 


Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao conveyed his congratulations to organizers of the inaugural event. Wen said it is a decision of strategy and not merely of diplomatic expediency that China is fostering friendship and cooperation with the Pacific island countries. 


He also expressed confidence that the forum, a landmark event in the relations between China and Pacific island countries, will set a new model for South-South cooperation. 



Wen listed measures China has decided to implement to meet the current needs of economic development of the Pacific island countries, including: 

  • To provide 3 billion yuan (about US$374 million) in preferential loans in the next three years to boost cooperation; 
  • To give zero-tariff treatment to the majority of exports to China from the least developed countries in the region that have diplomatic ties with China. China will cancel their debts that accrued at the end of 2005. For others, China will extend by a 10-year repayment period for debts that accrued at the end of 2005; 
  • To provide training to 2,000 government officials and technical staff from the island countries over the next three years to assist them in capacity building;
  • To formally approve Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia as destinations for Chinese tourists. This addition means that all seven island countries with diplomatic ties with China are now approved tourist destinations for Chinese citizens. 

Another highlight of the first day of the forum was an agreement entered into by China and the Pacific island countries to work for the establishment of a partnership of economic and trade cooperation on the basis of equality, complementarity, mutual benefit and respect.


The agreement was contained in a document titled "The China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Guiding Framework."


Ministers from China and 10 Pacific island countries, namely Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Micronesia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, are attending the two-day forum.








(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2006)

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