China sees Fiji as friend, partner in Pacific island region: Xi

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 21, 2014
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Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) meets with his Fijian counterpart Epeli Nailatikau in Nadi, Fiji, Nov. 21, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

China regards Fiji as a sincere friend and important partner in the Pacific island region, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his Fijian counterpart, Epeli Nailatikau, here Friday.

Xi is paying a state visit to Fiji, the first in history by a Chinese president.

China, he said, firmly supports the Fijian people in independently choosing a development path that fits the national conditions of Fiji, stands behind Fiji's efforts in developing its economy and improving people's life, and backs its reasonable appeals in the international arena.

Noting that the next year marks the 40th anniversary of China-Fiji diplomatic ties, Xi said China is willing to strengthen exchanges with Fiji at different levels, expand practical cooperation and push for further progress in bilateral ties.

"I hope my visit can open a new chapter in bilateral friendly and cooperative relations," Xi said.

For his part, Nailatikau thanked Beijing for the support and assistance China has long been offering to his country, and said Xi's visit will definitely lift bilateral ties to a higher level.

Fiji, he added, is committed to maintaining national stability and development, and regards the development of its relations with China as a cornerstone of its "Look North Policy," which is aimed at enriching the country's relations with Asia.

Fiji wishes to strengthen cooperation with China, he stressed.

On Friday evening, Xi met Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, who held for him a traditional welcoming ceremony, during which the Chinese leader was gifted with tabua, mats and yaqona, traditional Fijian items that symbolize peace and good luck.

The Fijian people are deeply honored to host Xi, whose country has always been respecting and supporting Fiji and helping Fiji pursue development, said Bainimarama.

Facts have proved that China is a true friend of Fiji, said the prime minister, adding that he is confident that Xi's visit will vigorously promote bilateral cooperation and boost the development of Pacific island countries.

Xi thanked the Fijian government and people for their hospitality, saying that the distinctive traditional welcoming ceremony "allows us to feel the Fijian people's profound friendship toward their Chinese counterpart."

The friendship between China and Fiji has crossed mountains and rivers, and China "looks forward to working with our Fijian friends to usher in a better future for bilateral ties," Xi said.

Leaders of other Pacific island countries who have come to Nadi for a joint meeting with Xi also attended the welcoming ceremony.

Xi arrived in Nadi earlier in the day. Fiji is the last stop of his three-nation South Pacific tour, which has taken him to Australia and New Zealand.

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