Chinese president to pay first visit to Pacific island countries in history
BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Fiji and collective meeting with leaders from Pacific island countries will be a historical first for Chinese presidents, a senior Foreign Ministry official said here Thursday.
Xi will attend the 9th G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, and pay state visits to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The Summit is slated for Nov. 15 and 16 while the state visits are from Nov. 16 to 23.
Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang told a press briefing that China has forged diplomatic ties with eight Pacific island countries, including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Micronesia, Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands and Niue.
With a total land area of the eight countries reaching 500,000 square kilometers, with more than 1,800 islands. Total population in the region exceeds 8 million.
The countries occupying this area play an important role in the region and in the world, Zheng said.
Speaking highly of the relations between China and the eight countries, Zheng said several of the leaders have recently visited or attended forums or expos in China.
China has expanded cooperation with these countries in areas including economy and trade, agriculture and minerals, said Zheng, adding the total trade volume between China and these countries reached 4.42 billion U.S. dollars in 2013.
"The relations between China and the Pacific island countries are entering the prime time in the history, and facing more opportunities in the future," said Zheng.
He said China has provided economic and technologic assistance within its capability to these countries and was welcomed by the local governments and people.
On the visit to Fiji, the first Pacific island country to forge diplomatic ties with China, Zheng said Xi will meet with leaders and exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of common concern.
Xi will also hold bilateral one-on-one meetings with leaders of the rest of the seven Pacific island countries during his stay in Fiji, said Zheng.
The Chinese president will deliver a speech on China's policy towards Pacific island countries and announce major measures that better bilateral cooperation and support development for the island countries, Zheng said.
He said a series of documents and deals will be signed during the visit, covering areas such as finance, education, training and infrastructure construction.
"I am sure the visit will chart a course for the future development of relations between China and Pacific island countries, and further cement the traditional friendship, " said Zheng.