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China, Pacific island countries lift ties to comprehensive strategic partnership

2018/11/16

PORT MORESBY, Nov. 16, Chinese President Xi Jinping and eight Pacific island countries' leaders and officials met in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) capital on Friday and agreed to elevate their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development.

Xi hosted the collective meeting with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, President Peter Christian of the Federated States of Micronesia, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi of Samoa, Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands, Prime Minister Samuela Akilisi Pohiva of Tonga, Niue Premier Toke Talagi and Fiji government representative, Defense Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, and delivered a keynote speech.

The Chinese president put forward suggestions on the development of China's relations with Pacific island countries under new circumstances, stressing that the two sides should seize the opportunity and jointly work for a better future.

Noting that China and Pacific island countries are all developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Xi said they have been good friends who treat each other with sincerity and mutual respect, good partners who work together for development and mutual benefits, and good brothers who understand and learn from each other.

China maintains that all countries are equal regardless of their sizes, respects the rights of the peoples in Pacific island countries to choose their own development paths, and respects the countries' efforts in united self-improvement and equal participation in international and regional affairs, he said.

Xi said China has been supporting the island countries in developing economy, improving people's livelihoods and enhancing their ability in independent and sustainable development.

China has proactively opened its market to the island countries, expanded investment in and import from the countries, and welcomed them to board the express train of China's development, Xi said, adding that the friendship between the peoples on both sides will become even deeper as communication and cooperation between China and the island countries boom.

Noting that the Asia-Pacific region has the fastest growing economy in the world with the largest potential, Xi said the only correct choice for the era is peace, development, cooperation and win-win.

The Pacific island countries are increasingly conscious of independent development with growing international influence, he said.

With strong economic complementarity and enormous cooperation potential, China and Pacific island countries' common interests and cooperation basis have expanded under new circumstances, he said.

Xi made a four-point proposal on deepening relations between China and the Pacific island countries.

Firstly, the countries should treat one another as equals and deepen political mutual trust, Xi said.

China is ready to maintain the momentum in exchanges at high and various levels with the island countries and continue to support one another on issues of their core interests and major concern, he said.

China is ready to jointly host with the island countries the China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum in the second half of 2019, he said.

Secondly, Xi proposed the countries stick to the mutually beneficial cooperation for common prosperity.

The Chinese side pledged continued efforts in raising the capability of the island countries that have established diplomatic ties with China in developing on their own and in creating a virtuous cycle in economy and society.

The two sides should seize upon the opportunity of the signing of the cooperation document in jointly building the Belt and Road to deepen practical cooperation at various levels, raise the level of bilateral trade facilitation and make sure the 2019 Year of Tourism for China and Pacific island countries a success, Xi said.

Thirdly, the countries should work to increase the friendship among the peoples, he said.

He pledged that China is willing to support the island countries in personnel training, promote Chinese teaching and people-to-people exchanges, as well as strengthen communication among people from all walks of life.

The Chinese side will encourage its provinces and cities to carry out communication and cooperation with the island countries, Xi said.

Fourthly, Xi called on the countries to take care of and support one another to safeguard fairness and justice.

The Chinese side, Xi said, is willing to join efforts with the island countries to safeguard a multilateral and free trading system, strengthen communication and coordination on international affairs and support the island countries to speak "the voice of Pacific," jointly promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and support the island countries in advancing the "Blue Pacific" initiative.

China attaches great importance to and understands the particular concern of Pacific island countries over the issue of climate change, Xi said, pledging to provide help within China's reach to the countries, jointly advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement and promote green, low-carbon and sustainable global development.

Xi stressed that no matter how developed China is, it will always be a member of the developing countries and will always stand side by side with other developing countries.

China and the Pacific island countries have unfolded a new chapter in their relations, Xi said.

China is willing to join efforts with the island countries to consolidate friendship and boost cooperation, to create an even brighter future for their relations.

Leaders of the Pacific island countries thanked the Chinese president for proposing and hosting once again the collective meeting.

China is an important partner of the Pacific island countries in realizing their visions for development, improving people's livelihood and addressing global challenges, they said.

The Pacific island countries treasure their close relations with China, adhere to the one-China policy, thank China for its long-term support with no political strings attached, the leaders said, adding that they are pleased to see the bilateral relations be lifted to a comprehensive strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development.

The Pacific island countries are ready to actively participate in the joint construction of the Belt and Road and strengthen cooperation with China in such areas as trade, investment, fishery, tourism and infrastructure construction, they said, which would boost their own economic and social development.

The Pacific island countries spoke highly of the leading role played by China in sustainable development, tackling climate change and other areas, and are ready to strengthen communication and coordination with China on multilateral affairs.

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