China a builder, helper in development
BRI a ‘transformative force,’ driving growth for Pacific nations
Published: Sep 14, 2023 09:59 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Editor's Note: 

Over the past decade, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), following the guiding principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, has grown into a global platform where countries along the routes work together to promote people's well-being and give a further boost to global development. 
As the BRI celebrates its 10th anniversary, Global Times reporters Shan Jie, Guo Yuandan, Shen Weiduo and Leng Shumei interviewed leaders and diplomats to learn about achievements of the cooperation in New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) over the past decade and their expectations for high-quality BRI construction in the next decade.

Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands 
In the past four years, significant developments have occurred in our country. Notably, a case in point is the infrastructure for the upcoming Pacific Games, with the investment totaling over $1 billion when converted to the currency of the Solomon Islands.
Furthermore, our nation is actively engaged in the digital connectivity program, which involves the construction of 161 towers throughout the country. The primary objective of this initiative is to bridge the digital divide by providing rural communities with improved access to connectivity, thereby linking them with central hubs.
In addition to these efforts, our country is collaborating closely with China as part of the BRI. This initiative is recognized as a transformative force in infrastructure development, playing a crucial role in driving progress within our nation. We are proud to be a participant in this remarkable initiative, which aligns with our infrastructure needs and development goals.

Wang Xiaolong, Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand
New Zealand is the first Western developed country to sign a BRI cooperation document with China. The agreement was automatically renewed last year. In June, China and New Zealand said in a joint statement on the comprehensive strategic partnership that they would continue to communicate on BRI cooperation. 
Since the signing of the cooperation documents, China and New Zealand have cooperated more closely in aspects such as policy communication, facility connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. Bilateral trade between China and New Zealand exceeded $40 billion NZD ($23.63 billion) for the first time in 2022. The upgraded protocol of the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement also officially came into effect in April last year, giving full play to the "ballast stone" of practical economic and trade cooperation for bilateral relations.
Looking into the future, China is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with New Zealand and carry out more pragmatic cooperation under the BRI framework to better benefit the two countries and their people.

Zeng Fanhua, Chinese Ambassador to PNG
PNG is the first Pacific island country to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and cooperation plan on jointly building the BRI with China. In recent years, China and PNG have always adhered to the cooperation principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits in building the BRI. They have also adhered to the open, green and clean cooperation concept, committing to high-standard, people-benefiting and sustainable cooperation goals. 
In developing relations and cooperation with PNG, China has always adhered to equal treatment, openness and inclusiveness, mutual benefit and win-win results. China has provided assistance based on PNG's vital interests and development needs. We believe that the Pacific island countries are very peaceful, and what the people of the island countries need is economic development and improvement of people's livelihood, not military bases and conflicts and confrontations. We have no objection to cooperation between other countries and the island countries, but such cooperation should not target third parties or harm the interests of third parties, let alone undermine the peace and stability of the entire region. The people of PNG can best determine who is a friend of PNG and who sincerely supports PNG's development.

Zhou Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Fiji 
China is not a newcomer to the Pacific region, but rather an old friend of Pacific Island Countries (PICs) sharing long-time bonds. China's traditional friendship with PICs has a long history. 
China plays a role as a builder, helper and collaborator in the development and revitalization of PICs, rather than being a disruptor, troublemaker or controller of regional security and stability. China has actively participated in the construction of vital infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, gyms and schools, which have not only helped improve the self-development capabilities of the people but also brought them tangible benefits. This is a vivid portrayal of China-PICs relations and serves as a testament to China-PICs pragmatic cooperation. No attacks or smears can erase these achievements.
Some countries have long neglected the Pacific region. They treated it as a nuclear testing ground, ignored the aspirations for development and happiness, and attempted to drag the PICs into an arena of geopolitical competition. Such attempts are doomed to fail. The South Pacific region is the home to PICs, not the backyard of external powers. It is a stage for cooperation, not an arena for vicious competition. 

Li Ming, China's first ambassador to Solomon Islands who served the position from September 2020 to September 2023
In October 2019, China and the Solomon Islands signed an MOU on BRI cooperation. Over the past four years, the cooperation under the BRI has yielded fruitful results, bringing profound benefits to the people of both countries.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the proposal of the BRI. China, as the world's second-largest economy, possesses a vast market, willingness to invest and advanced practical technology. It is highly complementary to numerous South Pacific countries, including the Solomon Islands. 
China will continue to deepen the BRI cooperation with the Solomon Islands on the principles of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, and achieve more fruitful outcomes.
We believe that in the next phase, the Solomon Islands will undoubtedly become a "hotbed" for Chinese enterprises' investments.