by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online
With the aim of strengthening economic and strategic ties with Pacific island nations, Chinese President Xi Jinping touched down in Suva, Fiji last week.
The visit was also aimed at touching base with regional leaders, one such being Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was also in Fiji. Having already established grounding with Fiji in 2010 as then-vice president of China, President Xi held talks with Fiji’s recently elected Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama. The following day, he met with a delegation of up to eight Pacific island leaders.
In a statement released before his arrival, President Xi said:
“An important agenda of my visit is to invite leaders of all Pacific island countries that have diplomatic ties with China to Fiji for discussions on ways to further grow China’s relations with these countries and jointly draw a blueprint for the bright future of our friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation.”
The eight Pacific nations included Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Vanuatu, Niue, Tonga and the Federated States of Micronesia.
PNG’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato, also engaged in talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Fiji last week and described the important establishment of relations with India and China as a thrilling prospect for the Pacific.
“India is offering a lot to the states of the Pacific islands as they have expertise in IT and risk management,” he said. He mentioned the importance of risk management in light of Papua New Guinea’s unpredictable natural disasters and also told The National that despite the sizeable differences in population and economy, Papua New Guinea shares similar domestic issues with India such as urban poverty due to population migration from rural areas into urban areas.