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Invited both countries to establish diplomatic relations

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 4, 2012) – Samoa’s prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has revealed that Samoa invited both China and Taiwan at the same time to establish diplomatic relations and then waited to see which country was first to take the opportunity.

Tuilaepa has told the Samoa Observer newspaper when other countries were looking down on China, Samoa’s then Prime Minister Tupua Tamasese Lealofi invited the Chinese to build an embassy in Apia.

The PM says China was the first to react and opened an embassy in Vailima while Taiwan never bothered.

Tuilaepa said China can never forget how Samoa helped at the time, and that it is why it will always help, such as in 2005, when it forgave a multi-million dollar debt.

According to Tuilaepa, Samoa is asking China for help to construct buildings and for sports because other donors cannot fund these things which are not in their line of grants.

Asked about the U.S. role in the region, Tuilaepa answered that the U.S. president can say whatever he wants but the reality is that the U.S. cannot match what China is doing to help the Pacific.

[PIR editor’s note: China and Samoa have enjoyed increased political and economic interactions over the last year, with a number of official visits of Chinese delegations to the island nation. China offered approximately US$6.1 million in aid money along with a Memorandum of Understanding in April. Chinese delegates said, echoing their government’s position, that the aid came "no strings attached" for development purposes and to strengthen bilateral relationships between the two nations.]

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