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By Xinhua writers Tai Beiping, Zhang Yongxing and Zheng Xin
At the 3rd China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum held Monday here, the capital city of Pacific island country Samoa, the participating countries reiterated their determination to step up win-win cooperation with China in various fields.
At the forum, with the signing of the "China-Pacific Island Countries Programme of Action on Economic Development and Cooperation," China stressed again that its support the regional countries will be catered to their needs.
“TEACH A MAN TO FISH”
As a famous Chinese proverb goes – “give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” This is the approach of China's cooperation with the island countries of the Pacific island. It means expanding their capacity and strengthening development sustainability.
The China-Samoa Agricultural Technical Aid Project, a bilateral cooperation project launched in 2010 to instruct Samoan farmers in agricultural techniques and technologies, has enabled locals to raise productivity and improve incomes.
John Maposua, a farmer from the Aleasa village in Apia, has benefited from the project. “I'm a farmer here for 30 years. Previously I kept eggplants and could hardly sell them for a good price. Now using seeds from Chinese experts, my farm produce is in great demand by restaurants in Apia,” he told Xinhua on Sunday.
Maposua has built two tunnel houses and a drip irrigation system to create an all-year growing season. His greenhouses managed to generate revenues over 11,000 Samoan tala (US$4,100) during the first six months after being put into use.
As the project increases agricultural productivity, Samoa has eased the domestic vegetable shortage, the project's leader Liu Zhiwen recalled, adding that he feels proud of such achievements.
Apart from agriculture, tourism is also a pillar industry for Pacific island countries. The cooperation with China brings an increasing number of tourists and thus injects new vitality into the region.
Chris Cocker, CEO of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), an intergovernmental tourism organization in South Pacific, told Xinhua "there are a growing number of Pacific countries, including SPTO members, exploring the Chinese outbound market as a potential source market."
Cocker says the number of the Chinese tourists to Pacific island countries grew by an average of 13.36 percent over the past five years. With the official launch of the China-Pacific Tourism Year 2019, the number of Chinese visitors is expected to grow more rapidly.
JOINT ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Boasting a crystal clear ocean and unique landscapes, Pacific island countries are a paradise for nature lovers. However, these low-lying islands share a deep-rooted fear -- the rising sea levels due to climate change.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the forum, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said tackling climate change is critical to Pacific island countries facing a global warming threat.
In his view, China is not only a heavyweight partner in economic and trade cooperation, but also an important ally in environmental protection.
Dame Meg Taylor, secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, said that climate change is a big threat for the security and well-being of the region, and China is an ally in coping with the problem.
She added China has made significant progress in renewable energy development, like solar and wind energy.
In the South Pacific region, China has undertaken a number of projects to preserve the environment. For example, China has assisted several countries, including Samoa, with crop-livestock-biogas recycling schemes to reduce agricultural pollution and carbon emissions.
In addition, China has also introduced its Juncao grass technology to Fiji and Papua New Guinea. The special Chinese grass can help increase income through low-cost mushroom cultivation, and minimize soil erosion by providing a new source of cattle feed other than pasture grass.
BRI, A NEW PLATFORM
As the Pacific island countries are located on the geographic extension of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) acts as a new platform for cooperation between China and the countries.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, China's combined trade volume with eight Pacific island countries reached US$4.32 billion in 2018, growing over 25 percent year-on-year.
Currently, China is the biggest trading partner and export market for the Solomon Islands, second largest trading partner for Papua New Guinea and Fiji, and third largest trading partner for Samoa.
China's total investment volume to the island countries amounted to US$4.53 billion. Projects of the two sides reached a total value of over 15 billion dollars, and created around 15,000 jobs for locals.
Francois Martel, secretary general of the Fiji-based Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), told Xinhua that the BRI is a great engine to push forward social and economic development for Pacific island countries.
China, as the largest developing country in the world, has not only developed itself, but also been helping others like the Pacific island countries, Martel said.
“Over the past several years, you can see China has shown respect to the island countries and has invested a lot and has provided a lot of assistance to this region," he said. "What China has done in this region is mutually beneficial and win-win,” he said.
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
Media Helping Media