SUVA, Fiji (AFP) -Chinese President Xi Jinping injected a further 70 million yuan (US$11.4 million) of aid money into Fiji as he wrapped up a round of talks in the Pacific nation Sunday aimed at strengthening ties in the region.
In a stopover following the Group of 20 summit in Australia, Xi held talks with Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and seven other island nation leaders who form the nucleus of a 12-nation Pacific voting bloc in the United Nations.
“I hope my visit can open a new chapter in bilateral friendly and cooperative relations,” Xi told the leaders of Samoa, Vanuatu, Niue, Tonga, Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands, and Papua New Guinea.
The talks also involved signing memoranda of understanding on a range of issues including climate change, with several island nations under threat from rising sea levels.
Fiji’s permanent secretary for foreign affairs Amena Yauvoli confirmed the aid grant and told the Fiji Times it was “an additional 70 million yuan to the 80 million that was offered in August. So in total, this is about Fjd$50 million (US$25.5 million) in grant and aid”.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said following his talks with Xi that it was important for the region to stay connected to the Asian powerhouse.
“China is a very important global player in terms of not only trade and investment, but in security and many other related issues and climate change,” O’Neill told reporters.
“I think it is important that we engage meaningfully with China on many of those issues.”