(Photo: Liu Qing/People's Daily Online)
Officials from China and Papua New Guinea (PNG) see potential to build on their bilateral relations as Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to make his first state visit to the Pacific island nation.
Xi will be there November 15 and 16. He last met with Pacific island leaders in 2014 at the G20 Leaders’ summit in Fiji.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said his country and China share positions and values on international issues such as climate change and free trade.
Being the largest and most populous Pacific island country, PNG is an important partner for China. President Xi and Prime Minister O'Neill have met several times previously and there are now increased exchanges between the two countries in economics, trade and humanities.
China-PNG relations are part of the successful story of China's relations with island countries and South-South cooperation, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Port Moresby on October 31.
As PNG’s partner, China has offered support for infrastructure improvements and for Papua New Guinea, the opportunity to host this weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting could lift its worldwide profile and attract more investment opportunities.
On different occasions, Chinese Ambassador to PNG Xue Bing and Prime Minister O'Neill have both mentioned that the two countries complement each other economically and that there is potential for more cooperation. Xue stressed that PNG is rich in natural resources while China has advantages in capital, technology and the market.
Among Pacific island countries, PNG is China's second largest trading partner and China is the third largest trading partner of PNG. Being China's largest investment destination in the Pacific, PNG has attracted almost $3.04 billion in direct investment from China. About 40 Chinese-funded enterprises are operating in PNG, creating local job opportunities.
The Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark sailed to the PNG capital Port Moresby in July on a humanitarian mission. The vessel, which last visited the country four years ago, conducted joint medical diagnoses, treatment and academic exchanges with local hospital staff.
In a recent interview with China Central Television, Prime Minister O'Neill announced that PNG had joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in May this year and became the first Pacific island nation to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative with China.
He said that participating in the BRI will enable PNG to obtain capital and infrastructure construction capabilities and broaden the market for its commodities, which will benefit both PNG and the entire South Pacific region.
Many BRI projects have been undertaken in PNG in recent years, including ports, roads and bridges to improve access for local people, especially those in isolated areas. People in many villages have connected to the outside world via roads, O'Neill added.