CHINA TO HELP FINANCE NUKUALOFA RECONSTRUCTION

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, ) – The People's Republic of China has agreed to assist in financing the reconstruction of Nuku'alofa, according to a Tonga government statement this afternoon.

Tonga is applying for a soft loan of the equivalent of TOP$112 million (RMB 20 million) [US$55 million].

In concluding his first official visit to China, the Tongan Prime Minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, said the details of China's financial assistance, are now being sorted out at the Ministerial levels.

While the Prime Minister and his delegation were in Beijing, an agreement was also signed between the two governments for a grant of pa'anga $5 million (RMB 20 million) [US$2.45 million] for the improvement of health facilities in Vava'u and Tongatapu.

"An additional untied grant of pa'anga $5 million (RMB 20 million) [US$2.45 million] was also announced by the President in his meeting with the Prime Minister," the statement said.

During the Prime Minister's visit to China, he held separate meetings with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman Wu Bangguo and senior government officials in Beijing.

The delegation included the Minister for Finance, Hon. Siosiua 'Utoikamanu; the Minister for Transport, Hon. Paul Karalus; and Tonga's Ambassador to PRC, H.E. 'Emeline Tuita; and support staff from the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegation also visited Xian, capital of the Province of Shaanxi in Central China, and Harbin, capital of the Province of Heilongjiang in the North.

The Prime Minister stated, "Our visit has reaffirmed the Government's commitment to the One China Policy and the recognition that Taiwan is an integral and inalienable part of the People's Republic of China. We were fascinated by hallmarks of China's ancient civilization, one of the world's oldest, whilst on the other we are in awe of the tremendous amount of economic activity going on throughout the country."

In Tonga, following the November 16 riot last year, 80 percent of the Nuku'alofa Central Business District was destroyed, and it has been estimated that Tonga needs US$200 million to rebuild the capital.

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