The Pacific Islands Forum has received another grant from China, amounting to US$1.05 million. A handing-over ceremony was held in Suva, Fiji, where Chinese Ambassador to Fiji, Zhang Ping, officiated the proceedings.
Ping told those gathered to witness the ceremony that the South Pacific region is significant to China and that his country stood ready to contribute to capacity building and development in the region.
China’s increasing level of engagement in the Pacific has been a concern in the region with traditional aid donors still coming to terms with China’s rapidly rising presence in the Pacific.
While Australia is still far ahead as the region’s biggest aid donor, China has risen to the top three to sit alongside the United States, ahead of Japan and New Zealand.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand, China’s Ambassador to New Zealand, Cook Islands and Niue, Wang Lutong, said that China’s assistance in the region is centred on infrastructure.
Lutong said that Chinese aid to the Pacific takes the form of grants, loans without interest and concessional loans, with grants taking the most percentage, and our foreign assistance also takes other forms as projects and materials.
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, said that China’s grant to the forum will assist the forum in advancing regional integration and help its members achieve sustainable development.