CHINA / Premier in Australia

China to offer preferential loans for Pacific island countries
Updated: 2006-04-05 11:43

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promised on Wednesday to offer 3 billion yuan of preferential loans in the next three years to boost cooperation between the business communities of China and the Pacific island countries.

Premier Wen, who arrived here Tuesday for an official visit, made remarks while delivering a keynote speech at the opening of the First Ministerial Conference of the China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum.

Wen said the move is made as part of efforts to meet the current need of the Pacific Island countries.

He said the preferential loans will be used to strengthen cooperation in development of resources, agriculture, forestry, fishery, tourism, textiles and consumer products manufacturing.

The premier added that the preferential loans will also be used to develop telecommunications, aviation and ocean shipping.

He said the Chinese government will also set up a special fund to encourage Chinese companies to invest in the Pacific island countries.

The premier also announced that to support the Pacific island countries in developing their economy and ease their debt burden, China will give zero-tariff treatment to the majority of exports to China from the least developed countries in the region that have diplomatic ties with China.

He said that China will cancel their debts that became mature at the end of 2005 and extend by 10 years the payment of debts contracted by other island countries that became mature at the end of 2005.

Premier Wen said China will provide free anti-malaria medicines to the island countries affected by the disease in the next three years to help them to treat malaria.

China will continue to send medical teams to the island countries and conduct annual training courses for health officials, hospital managers and medical researchers of these countries, he added.

Wen, who is the first Chinese premier to visit a South Pacific island country, said China is also ready to exchange information on bird flu prevention and control, and cooperate with the island countries in various ways in this field.

He added that China will provide training to 2,000 government officials and technical staff from the island countries over the next three years to assist them in capacity building.

To accelerate the development of tourism of the Pacific island countries, Wen said, China has decided to formally approve Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and the Federated States of Micronesia as destinations for Chinese tourists.

Thus, all the seven island countries having diplomatic ties with China are now approved tourist destinations for Chinese citizens.

Wen said China will provide assistance in building an earthquake or tsunami early warning and monitoring network in light of the need of the island countries to improve their capability of managing earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters.

Fiji is the second leg of Premier Wen's four-nation Asia-Pacific tour which has taken him to Australia and will take him to New Zealand and Cambodia.