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'One-China' essential to ties with PIF nations
By Liu Shinan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-11 08:39

APIA, Samoa: China has stressed the importance of the one-China principle to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) member nations.

Vice-Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong told the meeting that it was essential for a 'smooth development of China-PIF relations.'

He also said he hoped China could contribute to the nations' economic and social progress by strengthening co-operation with them.

Zhou told his counterparts in the regional organization that China supports the efforts of PIF members to develop national economies and improve their people's livelihoods. "China will continue to do its utmost to provide aid to all island countries that have diplomatic relations with China," Zhou said.

Zhou made the statement Tuesday morning, Beijing time, at the Post-Forum Partners' Dialogue, which was held at the end of the 15th Pacific Islands Forum.

The forum groups Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papau New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomons, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

China first took part in the partners' dialogue in 1990.

"We have just had a very fruitful dialogue with the panel," said Zhou. "I think we've made good progress in our relations with the forum and the countries in the region."

Zhou said China has pledged US$30 million to boost an Asian Development Bank Fund and US$20 million to set up a China Special Fund for Poverty Reduction and Regional Co-operation, which will support development and poverty reduction in the Asia-Pacific region.

Zhou said he encourages members from the forum to take advantage of the two funds China has committed to the ADB.

Trade and economic relations between China and PIF members have kept growing. Trade volume between China and the 14 small island countries, apart from Australia and New Zealand, was US$500 million last year, representing a 68 per cent growth over the previous year.

Some of the forum members are among the world's smallest and poorest countries. Many have scarce natural resources and have to rely on aid and tourism for survival.

During the dialogue meeting, China agreed to grant "approved destination status" to Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Cook Islands for Chinese tourists.

Zhou announced that a Chinese Government delegation will attend as a state party the meeting of the Council of Tourism Ministers of the South Pacific Tourism Organization.

At the press conference after the meeting, Zhou said most of the forum members showed interest in obtaining tourism destination status. "In principle we'll do that in phases, so there'll be more announcements on the way," Zhou said.

On the Taiwan question, Zhou said: "We appreciate the PIF's rejection of Taiwan's bid to be a dialogue partner at the previous PIF meeting."

But he urged PIF members to "remain highly vigilant to the political manoeuvres of the Taiwan authorities to split up China and undermine China's relations with the PIF and countries having diplomatic relations with China."

He said that the Taiwan authorities were "vigorously carrying out a 'dollar diplomacy,'" and trying to buy their way into official relations with some countries, which have economic difficulties at present.

He said what the Taiwan authorities had done had provoked internal turbulence in certain countries and jeopardized regional stability to the detriment of the fundamental and long-term interests of countries and peoples in the South Pacific region.

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