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China and Pacific Island Countries - Our Ship of Friendship and Cooperation will Keep Forging Ahead

Address by H.E. Wang Yang
Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
At the Opening Ceremony of the Second China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum and the 2013
China International Green Innovative Products and Technologies Show

Guangzhou, 8 November 2013

Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellencies Heads of Delegation, Ministers and Ambassadors,
Your Excellency Li Yong, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Yesterday, leaders of Pacific island countries and I, at our friendly meetings, reached much consensus and achieved many cooperation results. Today, we are here together for the second China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum. On behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to extend warm congratulations on the opening of the Forum and a heartfelt welcome to all the distinguished guests coming from afar.

As the sole high-level collective dialogue and cooperation mechanism between China and Pacific island countries, the Forum serves as an important platform for the two sides to deepen mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation. Since the launch of the Forum in 2006, thanks to the concerted efforts of all sides, our cooperation have made encouraging progress in all fields. In the past seven years, our trade has grown at a robust annual rate of 27% on average, topping US$4.5 billion in 2012. Nearly 150 Chinese companies are now operating in Pacific island countries with a total investment of nearly US$1 billion and the contract value of projects exceeding US$5 billion. Our people have made more mutual visits. Seven Pacific island countries are now the approved destinations for Chinese tourist groups. Last year, Chinese tourists made nearly 70,000 visits to Pacific island countries. Economic cooperation and trade have grown fast, delivering real benefits to all sides and bringing the Chinese people and people of Pacific island countries closer together.

To facilitate the economic development and improve people's life in Pacific island countries has always topped China's agenda in growing friendly relations with them. China has provided various assistance worth RMB9.4 billion to Pacific island countries, undertaken more than 90 complete sets of projects, and sent a number of medical and agricultural teams to the island countries. The national medical center situated in the capital city of Samoa has significantly improved local medical conditions. The renovated central business district in the capital city of Tonga has become a busy downtown area. The Y-12 aircrafts and dual-use vessels provided by China to some of the Pacific island countries have greatly helped with local transport. These speak volumes about the sincere cooperation between China and Pacific island countries and will bear witness to the lasting friendship between our peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The international political and economic landscapes are undergoing major readjustment and transformation. Global challenges of all kinds are mounting. Pacific island countries, given their unique natural and geographic conditions, face more challenges and bigger difficulties in climate change, disaster prevention and mitigation, maritime environmental protection and food security. Hence, they need full understanding, support and assistance from the international community. China and Pacific island countries had similar experience in the past and have the common task of economic development and poverty eradication. We in China understand the unique conditions and aspirations of island countries and will work closely together with them to meet various challenges and risks and set a good example of South-South cooperation.

- Our cooperation is equal-footed. We believe that countries, big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, are all equal members of the world community. China respects and supports Pacific island countries in their choice of development path suited to national conditions, and supports their effort in upholding sovereignty and development rights and interests and participating in regional and international affairs on the basis of equality.

- Our cooperation is sincere. We feel truly happy for the economic and social progress the island countries have made and share their feelings as they cope with difficulties on the way forward. Our assistance to Pacific island countries is sincere and selfless, with no strings attached. We will always do our best to keep our promise and fulfill our commitments in good faith.

- Our cooperation is practical. China sees economic growth and a better life of people in Pacific island countries as the goal for our cooperation. We have worked hard to draw on each other's strengths and leverage our complementarities. We have made the best use of available funds in meeting those needs of Pacific island countries where we have the capabilities. By so doing, we aim to help address the most immediate and pressing difficulties of Pacific island countries, make sure our cooperation programs generate both short-term and long-term benefits, and enhance the sustainability of our cooperation.

The measures announced by China at the last Forum have been fully implemented. To step up our support for the economic and social development of Pacific island countries, China will make efforts in the following areas:

First, support Pacific island countries in developing major projects. China will provide US$1 billion in concessional loans to the Pacific island countries having diplomatic ties with China for major production projects, and infrastructure and welfare programs. China Development Bank will offer a special loan of US$1 billion to support infrastructure development in these countries.

Second, support Pacific island countries in expanding export to China. We will give zero-tariff treatment to 95% of the products from the least developed Pacific island countries, support Pacific island businesses in participating in exhibitions and promotion activities in China and create favorable conditions for their competitive products to enter the Chinese market.

Third, support Pacific island countries in developing human resources. China will provide 2,000 scholarships in the next four years and continue to help train technical professionals for Pacific island countries. We will also continue to help build primary and secondary schools in island countries and provide assistance in Chinese language teaching.

Fourth, support Pacific island countries in tapping the Chinese tourism market. We will assist Pacific island countries in their tourism promotion activities in China, encourage more Chinese tourists to visit the island countries, sign bilateral air services agreements in due course and encourage our airlines to establish direct air links.

Fifth, support Pacific island countries in developing health and medical programs. China will continue to help Pacific island countries build medical facilities, send Chinese medical teams, provide medical equipments and medicines, and share our anti-malaria experience and technologies.

Sixth, support Pacific island countries in enhancing agricultural production. We will strengthen cooperation in the processing and trade of agricultural and forest products, investment and R&D in agriculture and fishery, and protection and reasonable use of forest resources. We will work to ensure the success of demonstration farms and other cooperation projects, continue to dispatch agricultural and fishery experts and provide relevant equipments for Pacific island countries.

Seventh, support Pacific island countries in protecting the environment and preventing and reducing disasters. China will provide Pacific island countries with solar street lights, energy-efficient electric home appliances and other low-carbon products, help develop a number of green energy projects in small hydro-power, solar power, and biogas, and provide assistance in the forecast and early warning of extreme weather and monitoring of marine environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To address climate change and save our planet is the common challenge of mankind. It is also a major concern of Pacific island countries. China regards it as a strategic task to address climate change and has taken a series of strong policy measures. China was the first developing country to adopt and implement a National Climate Change Program. China has made the most intensive efforts in energy conservation and emission reduction in recent years. Our new and renewable energies grow faster than other countries, and we have the largest afforestation program in the world. China will stay committed to its basic state policy of resource conservation and environmental protection by focusing on advancing green development, circular development and low-carbon development. We will strive to achieve the goal of cutting CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40%-45% by 2020 from the 2005 level, so as to create a sound living and working environment for our people and contribute our share to global ecological security.

On the sidelines of this Forum, we will also hold the 2013 China International Green Innovative Products and Technologies Show to promote the concept of green development and facilitate exchanges and cooperation in low-carbon industries. We stand ready to strengthen cooperation with Pacific island countries in green development, and are pleased to see the active participation of their businesses in the Show to seek cooperation opportunities and jointly advance green development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The choice of Guangdong Province as the venue of this Forum is also a special arrangement. If the Forum were held in Beijing during this time of the year, our friends from Pacific island countries would have to buy winter clothing that you will never wear back home. And more importantly, Guangdong is also located by the Pacific Ocean. It is China's No.1 province in terms of economy and foreign trade. Its total export and import for 2013 are expected to exceed US$1 trillion, hence the huge business opportunities. We hope that Guangdong will strengthen its economic ties with Pacific island countries. We also suggest that Pacific island countries actively expand practical cooperation with Guangdong. In this way, we will make the pie of our common interest bigger and achieve win-win results.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To develop friendly and cooperative relations with Pacific island countries is by no means an expedient measure, but a long-term strategic policy of China. The growth of our relationship has shown and will continue to show that China is a close and trustworthy friend as well as a reliable partner of cooperation to Pacific island countries. As long as we work shoulder to shoulder and pull the oars together, the ship of friendship and cooperation between China and Pacific island countries is bound to break waves and forge ahead in the vast Pacific Ocean.

Thank you.

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