to host pacific leaders in November
China has upped the antennae
on the race to win the hearts of Pacific Island Countries.
In November this year the
Beijing leadership is hosting the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum for the
first China-Pacific Leaders’ Dialogue to be held in its south-west coastal city
Although officials have been
tight-lipped about the event and its details, they have confirmed in private
that the three-day meeting will take place from November 9 this year.
It will follow a similar
format to the annual Japan-South Pacific Leaders’ Summit.
Officials said that although
Solomon Islands does not have diplomatic relations with China, it will be on
the list of invitees.
Solomon Islands has
diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which China continues to claim is a renegade
province of the Mainland.
Guangzhou was chosen by the
Beijing Government to showcase China’s economic miracle because of the
south-west coastal city’s thriving economic development, ranking it at the top
of China’s most successful domestic economies.
“China will announce a
package of assistance it has for the Pacific Island nations at the meeting,”
one senior Pacific Islands official said in Beijing on the weekend.
“In the package will be
China’s offer of USD1 billion soft loan, which will be available to all Pacific
Islands nations,” the official said.
The soft loan offer will be
the second time China has offered the Pacific Island countries and to be
consistent with new focus and emphasis Beijing has placed on the Pacific region.
For example, a senior Chinese
government official told visiting Pacific Island countries’ delegation last
Wednesday that Beijing is ready to assist Pacific Island Countries by way of
providing concessional loans and other forms of assistance.
“China’s assistance comes in
different forms, which include grants, concessional loans and in-kind
“These are available to all
Pacific Island Countries,” Vice Minister, Liu Jieyi, of the International
Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said.
It is not clear whether Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo would be attending, particularly at a time when Taiwan has been very sensitive about approaches to Solomon Islands by Beijing.
By Alfred Sasako
Xi’an, South-west China
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