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China, Pacific island countries discuss cooperation
Latest Updated by 2006-04-06 09:13:46
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The first Ministerial Meeting of the China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum opened in FijiWednesday morning.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Michael Somare and heads of state or government of some other island countries attended the opening ceremony.

In his welcoming speech, Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said, "let China and our countries create dynamic partnership for a new Pacific."

He said the forum would give the island countries a chance to come together with China to turn on a new page in the region's history.

The prime minister said there is a common desire for increased cooperation, commerce and investment among those countries.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao congratulated the convention of the first ministerial meeting of the Forum.

The Chinese premier said it is a strategic decision, not a diplomatic expediency, for China to foster 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 some measures China has decided to take to meet the current needs of economic development of Pacific island countries, which include providing 3 billion yuan of preferential loans in the next three years to boost cooperation, giving zero-tariff treatment to the majority of exports to China from the least developed countries in the region that have diplomatic ties with China, and making all the seven island countries that have diplomatic ties with China tourist destinations for Chinese citizens.

Papua New Guinean Prime Minister, who is also the current chairof the Pacific Islands Forum, said at the opening ceremony that "this week we are considering an initiative to establish a high-level consultation to enhance economic and trade cooperation between China and Pacific island countries."

"This will assist the region to develop a structured relationship that carries a number of potential benefits, while respecting and supporting current and future bilateral commitments and initiatives," he said.

China and eight Pacific island countries signed a "guiding framework" on economic development and cooperation at the meeting Wednesday.

The document says Ministers commend the level of economic and trade co-operation between China and the Pacific island countries, and firmly believe that there is great potential for further development through the joint efforts of the governments of the countries.

At the afternoon session, 17 cooperation agreements and documents were signed, including the Agreement on Establishing the China-Fiji Islands Trade and Economic Cooperation Commission, Y12IV aircraft Lease-purchase Contract between China and Fiji, the MOU on CDMA System Cooperation between IPBC of Papua New Guinea and Huawei China, and the Supplementary Agreement on Setting up a Floating Fishing Wharf between China and Vanuatu.

Ministers of China and the eight Pacific island countries, namely the Cook Islands, Fiji, Micronesia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, participate in the meeting. Australia and New Zealand are also represented at the meeting.

Among those present at the meeting are some 300 entrepreneurs from China and Pacific island countries.

The meeting is jointly sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Fijian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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