China, Pacific Island nations to bolster collaboration in poverty alleviation
China launched a development center with Pacific Island countries on Wednesday to strengthen cooperation in poverty alleviation and development, as these nations cope with challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing via video link the launch ceremony of the China-Pacific Island Countries Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center in Fuzhou, Fujian province, Xie Feng, vice-minister of foreign affairs, said that Pacific Island countries are welcome aboard the express train of China's development.
"As an important move adopted by China to implement the Global Development Initiative, to engage in international cooperation on poverty reduction and to help Pacific Island countries achieve progress and rejuvenation, the center will certainly further deepen China's comprehensive strategic relations with Pacific Island countries," Xie said.
President Xi Jinping said in a phone conversation with King Tupou VI of Tonga in September that China was willing to share poverty reduction experience and deepen development cooperation with Pacific Island countries and would set up a China-Pacific Island countries cooperation center for poverty reduction and development.
Later that year, the first China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers' Meeting, held via video link, agreed to establish the center, together with an emergency supplies reserve and a climate change cooperation center.
Noting that China firmly stands with developing nations, Xie said China always treats Pacific Island countries on an equal footing, provides them with sincere assistance and helps them pursue development to hold their destiny in their own hands.
Pacific Island nations are not the backyards or spheres of influence of any country, Xie said, noting that their sovereign dignity must be fully respected and their development rights and interests fully secured.
John Fugui, the ambassador of the Solomon Islands to China, who attended the ceremony along with envoys from other Pacific Island countries, expressed his hope that the center would produce tangible results for learning and sharing experiences and information between China and its Pacific Island partners on poverty alleviation.
Such experiences could help the countries boost their economies and their peoples' well-being, especially as they grapple with challenges associated with climate change, rising poverty and unemployment, and the social and economic impacts of COVID-19, he said.
Chen Xiaochen, executive deputy director of the Centre for Asia Pacific Studies at East China Normal University in Shanghai, said the center's launch shows that China is honoring its commitments made during the foreign ministers' meeting in October.
"The center, based on Fujian's cooperation with Pacific Island countries over the past years, will help to apply experiences and practices in more Pacific Island countries that have been proved to be feasible," Chen said.