China has launched a centre for disaster risk reduction cooperation with Pacific Island countries.

The southern Chinese city of Jiangmen will serve as a home base for exchanges. Officials hope the initiative will help shore up defence against climate change.

Chinese Government Special Envoy for Pacific Island Countries, Qian Bo, diplomats from the region and other senior officials attended the launch ceremony.

Under the framework, China will share data, expertise and supplies with Pacific countries to address common challenges facing the region.

Albert Mariner, Ambassador of Samoa to China said: “As you know, natural disasters are one of the key challenges to our parts of the world. And so what the center is offering in terms of capacity building, technical expertise and technology to help us meet the challenges of natural disasters is very, very welcome.”

Guangdong already hosts a joint reserve with the Pacific islands. These warehouses dispatched emergency relief to Tonga following a volcano eruption last year. The new centre in Jiangmen will help train emergency personnel and develop future solutions.

Huang Fei, Jiangmen, Guangdong Province official said: “Many of the solutions will be driven by technology including the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Industrial robots like these are needed to manufacture high-end equipment used in an emergency response. In some cases, robots can replace humans in dangerous rescue operations.”

In the meantime, big data and smart city algorithms are considered valuable tools in flood monitoring and water safety.
Ambassador of Kiribati to China, David Ateti Teaabo said: “One of the key issues in Kiribati is water and sanitation. I’m looking at the AI to have a scoping of how to really develop the water system, particularly with the rural areas. So we are looking at this to really help us.”

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, a land and maritime network aimed at facilitating trade and economic growth. China is building stronger ties in a region where climate expertise informs global adaptations.

Fiji’s Ambassador to China, Manasa Tagicakibau said: “The world needs China. China is reaching out genuinely to offer the assisting hands of cooperation and the world should grab that assisting hand with both hands, and work together. As President Xi used to mention, for a shared future of mankind.”