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Anniversary of diplomatic relations marked by dinner

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 30, 2012) – Vanuatu and China marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties with a lavish dinner and speeches on March 26.

Speaking at a function at the Warwick Le Lagon Hotel in Port Vila hosted by the Chinese Embassy to mark the occasion, the Vanuatu Prime Minister Meltek Sato Kilman Livtunvanu and the Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu Cheng Shuping both referred to the other’s country as a true friend.

In his speech the Prime Minister called China "a true and steadfast friend of Vanuatu". He said the people of Vanuatu have experienced through the years the significant role the People’s Republic of China has played in the country’s national development.

"I am pleased to acknowledge and express my Government’s appreciation for the development assistance we have received from the People’s Republic of China over the years. This valued assistance has been in various sectors and serves to enlarge our national capacity in order for us to accelerate our development", the Prime Minister said.

He said the peoples of the two countries have benefited from this expansive agenda of cooperation between the two countries, calling it ‘a solid demonstration of the robust cooperation between the two countries, which is a satisfying achievement.’

"Vanuatu and China share common interests in international and regional issues, and consequently the cornerstone of Vanuatu’s foreign policy over the years has been our ‘One China Policy," the Vanuatu Prime Minister added.

In his remarks Ambassador Cheng Shuping said although Vanuatu is a small Pacific Island Country, it holds great potential on economic and social development. He said Vanuatu people are great people that are honest, friendly, respectful, diligent, and in compliance with laws and social orders. China has made great improvements in developing relations with Island Countries in the South Pacific Region, and there will be more substantial development in the future. "We see Vanuatu as a true friend of China in the region, and I firmly believe that we have bright and broad prospects in developing and enhancing our bilateral relations and cooperation which will bear more and more fruits and accomplishments in the future, the Ambassador said.

On March 25, 1982, the then Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Mr. Shen Zhiwei traveled to Port Vila. He met with Vanuatu’s first President His Excellency Sokomanu and first Prime Minister Hon. Walter Lini, after talks, the two sides signed "The Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Vanuatu", and the following day, on 26th March the Joint Communiqué was officially announced to the public.

Over the past 30 years, China and Vanuatu have increased mutual understanding, supported and helped each other.

"In their respective national endeavors to promote development and pursue a better life, the Chinese and Ni-Vanuatu peoples have fostered profound friendship, and fruitful progress has been made in China-Vanuatu cooperation. The friendship between us has become a role model among developing countries, which we still benefit today," the Chinese Ambassador continued.

Over the past 30 years, China has provided assistance to Vanuatu in accordance with Vanuatu’s request and urgent needs. And in recent years, greater attention has been paid to knowledge-based cooperation such as capacity building, human resources training and science and technology exchanges, and to enhancing social development and making life better for local communities and the grass root.

Ambassador Cheng mentioned some of the highlights of the projects, which have fostered the economic growth and elevated the social livelihood of Vanuatu. The Parliament House, the building of Melanesian Spearhead Group Headquarter, the dormitory building of the Emalus Campus of the University of South Pacific and more.

Starting in 1985, China has sent a medical team of 8 doctors to Santo Northern Hospital; and from 1993, another medical team of 8 doctors was dispatched annually to Port Vila Central Hospital. Up to now, more than 130 Chinese doctors have served for more than two decades in Vanuatu.

Since 1995, China provided 5 to 8 full scholarships for Ni-Vanuatu students and scholars each year to study in the Chinese Higher Education Institutions. There are still around 20 Ni-Vanuatu students studying now in China who will certainly become the dynamic human resources to the development of Vanuatu after graduation.

Since 1996, China has consecutively dispatched table tennis coach for a term of 2 years to help Vanuatu popularize the sport and improve the technique of table tennis. In return, the Vanuatu women’s player rewarded with gold in the woman’s single and a silver medal for the team in the South Pacific Table Tennis Tournament a few years ago.

China has promised to provide 38 vehicles to support the upcoming ACP-EU Ministerial Meeting to be held in June in Port Vila. These vehicles will arrive in Vanuatu approximately in May. The construction of the French School of Emalus Campus of USP and the National Convention Center will start in the second half of the year, which are other projects the Chinese are funding.

Ambassador Cheng acknowledged that China also get valuable support from Vanuatu side.

He said, "We have maintained good communications and coordination on regional and international issues. China appreciates Vanuatu Government’s valuable backup for various Chinese candidates competing for positions in international organizations for more voices from developing countries.

"We also greatly value Vanuatu Government’s position on the One China Policy, which not only lays the foundation for our diplomatic relations, but also demonstrates the respect and support of Ni-Vanuatu people for Chinese people’s efforts for national reunification".

Both the Vanuatu Prime Minister and the Chinese Ambassador hold great hope for the diplomatic relations between the two countries to continue to grow in the next thirty years.

The function at the Warwick Le Lagon Hotel was attended by about 150 invited guests including the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini Vanuaroroa, other Government Ministers, heads of other Diplomatic Missions, senior Vanuatu Government Officials, business leaders and leaders of the Vanuatu/China Friendship Association and the Chinese Community in the country.

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