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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 31) – Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Greg Urwin has described China’s recent commitment of PGK8.49 million (US$2.89 million) as a "new approach" of long-time, reliable, secure commitments towards the Pacific region.

Mr. Urwin said this after the announcement by China Vice-Foreign Minister Jang Jiechi of the funding commitment of US$2 million towards the China-Pacific Islands Forum cooperation fund.

Of this, US$50,000 will go to the Bitakewa regional co-operation fund, US$100,000 each for Pacific Islands Forum Import Management Fund and Forum Parliamentary Assembly, US$500,000 over five years to the South Pacific Tourism Organization that ousted Taiwan’s bid for membership, and US$80,000 for South Pacific Regional Environmental Program.

"It means quite a lot for us because it specifically tailored towards project activities connected with the Pacific Plan," Mr. Urwin said.

"It’s the kind of support that we are going to need from various of our partners. It represents, I think, in some way a new approach by China.

"It’s demonstrating a long-term commitment to us. And it is those sorts of long-time, reliable, secure commitments that are going to be valuable to us if we can ourselves carry on with things for the long-term."

He said these commitments — and those directly made to other regional organizations — put China among the more significant of our partners.

"We’ve been talking to a number of partners about the implementation of the Pacific Plan and we have now got commitments of one kind of another from a whole range of them," he said, naming some of them as New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the Asian Development Bank, the Commonwealth, United Nations Development Program, and possibly France.

"We’ve assembled a good range of support, which is going to enable us to go ahead on a very broad front," Mr. Urwin said.

November 1, 2005

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