ADDRESS: His Royal Highness Prince ‘Ulukalala Lavaka Ata

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GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF TONG Nuku‘alofa, Tonga

 

ADDRESS by His Royal Highness Prince ‘Ulukalala Lavaka Ata Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kingdom of Tonga

 

At the Opening of the Premises of Tonga’s Honorary Consulate General Beijing, China April 25, 2002

Your Royal Highnesses, Princess Salote Pilolevu Tuita, Honorable Tuita, Governor of Vava‘u,

The distinguished representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China, Assistant Minister Zhou Wenzhong,

Vice Mayor, Mr. Zhang Mao,

Your Excellency’s,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me very great pleasure to be here in Beijing, the capital of the Peoples Republic of China once again.

One always feels the heartbeat of history on arrival in this great city. Everywhere around are links to the dawning of man’s early existence on our planet and one can only marvel at the unfolding of time as the Chinese people set about formulating a chart for the orderly development of society.

China's contribution to civilization has been unique in all the fields of human endeavor from science, medicine, architecture, literature, philosophy and the development of the nation state, and also not forgetting the culinary and epicurean delights that have overwhelmed me on each occasion that I have visited.

No city or provincial capitol in the world today can claim proper recognition as a member of civilized society unless it has at least one of the many styles of Chinese cooking readily available.

I am particularly pleased that on this occasion, we meet to mark the opening of the new Tongan Honorary Consulate General in Beijing. My Government's commitment to strengthening the bonds that bind our two countries is total. I know that this vital link will support the established Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in Nuku'alofa to forge a closer working relationship between our peoples and the two Governments entrusted with this vital responsibility.

We have already made considerable headway in developing closer links of a diplomatic and commercial nature. In this regard I would like to acknowledge the important role played by the China Association for International Friendly Contact in bridging normalization of relations between our two countries. A major aid project has now been completed with the construction of the Ha'apai High School, a state of the art modern college that will reverse the flow of school children to Nuku'alofa in search of education and employment opportunities.

Our two countries are working closely at the cutting edge of modern day telecommunications to provide important links that will also allow use of Tonga's registered orbital satellite and slots. In this respect, I am pleased to acknowledge the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Pilolevu whom has been instrumental in forging the links that have allowed Tonga to be a modest player in this internationally challenging field. With China's continuing support, I know that modern day technology will play an increasingly important role in the development of our two nations.

China and Tonga are also members together with the Nations of the Western and Central Pacific in a major undertaking to manage the tuna resources of the region. This will ensure that Fisheries are developed in a sustainable and orderly fashion that will not only allow for exploitation now at a current level of about US$ 1.8 billion, but will also allow future generations to benefit from this bountiful resource. China's role and leadership in the development of appropriate management tools for the largest of the tuna Fisheries in the world that is stable has been welcomed by the Island States of the Pacific. Whilst the development of an appropriate management tool is still very much in progress, I am hopeful that the latest rounds of discussions in this area will pave the way for both states to commit to this worthwhile enterprise.

A small fleet of five fishing vessels left China recently and I have just been informed that they arrived safely in Tonga to begin fishing operations in Tonga's Exclusive Economic Zone. From our perspective this is a welcome indication of China's interest in building lasting ties in one of our most important economic development sectors. It will also allow Tongan seafarers to learn from this enterprise the skills and techniques of tuna long-lining as well as the economics of the tuna fisheries.

China is also one of the leading countries in the development of aquaculture, no doubt a skill that has been honed because of the awareness that a nation of this size cannot hope to sustain its large population from wild catch alone. This week a young member of the Ministry of Fisheries is attending a China/Food and Agriculture Organization workshop on the development of aquaculture. I hope that links can be developed in this field as Tonga begins its own efforts to farm its marine resources.

The construction of Fuakavenga II in a Chinese dockyard is indication alone that the maritime links are now being strengthened.

As Minister of Civil Aviation, I would hope that the aircraft manufacturing ability and technological advancements in light twin engined aircraft for freight, surveillance and air transport, may be another area where Tonga may strengthen its transport ties with China. Indeed enroute here today I visited several countries to discuss the advantages of Tonga’s geographical location, being a transit point for aircraft and airlines wishing to utilize a more direct link between Asia and America. Our open skies policy is evidence of the importance of air transport to sustainable economic development and the Tongan Government’s commitment to that development.

The opening of air services will not only strengthen the ties, between our two countries but it will open up the markets in trade and possibly tourism, as well as bringing our nations that much closer in travel time.

The Peoples Republic of China's entry into the World Trade Organization has been an important landmark, which I particularly welcome. Apart from the obvious benefits that will accrue to all trading nations with having the largest nation participate in the orderly development of international trade, it also heralds the arrival in this international arena of a champion of the weak, the small and the marginalized who have found it difficult to survive in the murky depths of international trade.

It therefore is with honor and great pleasure that in the name of His Majesty King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV and His Government, I declare the premises of Tonga’s Honorary Consulate General in Beijing open for business.

Malo,

‘Ulukalala Lavaka Ata Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kingdom of Tonga

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