China, Nauru to accelerate cooperation under BRI, creating more opportunities for local residents
BRI cooperation to bring more opportunities to islanders: observers
Published: Jan 18, 2024 04:24 PM
A view of the upgrade and renewal of Aiwo Port Terminal in Nauru Photo:Courtesy of China Harbour Engineering Company

A view of the upgrade and renewal of Aiwo Port Terminal in Nauru Photo:Courtesy of China Harbour Engineering Company

Cooperation between China and Nauru under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may accelerate following Nauru's recent decision to sever  "diplomatic ties" with the Taiwan island, Chinese observers said.

They noted that the mutually beneficial cooperation between Nauru and China will bring tangible benefits to local residents and provide new momentum for the economic development of Nauru.

"We will not set restrictions for fields of our cooperation, and the fields will be determined through talks between the two sides," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday when asked if the two countries will consider security and police cooperation after Nauru's decision to sever "diplomatic relations" with the Taiwan island.

The ministry spokesperson emphasized that the two countries will engage in cooperation in various fields based on equality, mutual respect, mutually beneficial cooperation, openness and inclusiveness. 

Tangible benefits

Among the widespread areas of partnership, industry analysts believe the BRI could be an immediate and important pathway for cooperation as the initiative has already delivered tangible results, and helped improve the economic development and quality of life for people of many island countries in the South Pacific, serving as a successful template for accelerating partnership.

"From my personal perspective, Nauru will highly likely to join the China-proposed BRI, and this is an inevitable decision that reflects global trends and is motivated by the Nauru government's desire to pursue development," a representative from a state-owned enterprise based in the South Pacific region, told the Global Times on Wednesday on condition of anonymity. 

"The Nauru government has witnessed how the BRI has become one of the world's most influential public goods during the past decade, and how the initiative has been delivering many benefits to the South Pacific region," he added. 

Nevertheless, only a limited number of Chinese companies have invested in Nauru to date, including a construction company and several Chinese retailers, mainly due to the South Pacific economy's "diplomatic ties" with the Taiwan island in the previous years, according to the company representative.

The upgrading and renovation project of Aiwo Port Terminal in Nauru, constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), is among the few projects that Chinese companies have invested in the island South Pacific nation.

The project is a part of Nauru port development project to help transform the harbor into the country's first fully functioning international port. The port terminal is constructed to be the container ship berth and is scheduled to be completed this year, Zhu Wei, vice-manager of Nauru Port Construction Project of CHEC, told the Global Times in an interview on Wednesday.

Zhu noted that the port project has created job opportunities for local residents, and "will definitely make a contribution to the sound and efficient port operations, spur economic growth through increased trade and investment in Nauru."

Nauru, as the world's smallest island nation, is eager for external support in infrastructure construction. Chinese engineering companies are expected to look for new opportunities, with hopes of undertaking more construction projects and collaboration opportunities there, said Zhu.

Growth potential

In a post on Facebook, the government of Nauru said on Monday that it will follow UN Resolution 2758, which recognizes the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and recognize Taiwan as an inalienable part of China's territory, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

"China appreciates and welcomes the decision of the government of the Republic of Nauru. The Nauru government's decision of reestablishing diplomatic ties with China once again shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends," China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The above-mentioned company representative predicted that after the two countries resumed diplomatic relations, Chinese companies may be interested in investing in sectors which Nauru has struggled to attract capital, such as basic infrastructure construction and climate resilience.

"There is significant room for enterprises from both countries to cooperate in fishing and sea farming fields, as Nauru, with a marine exclusive economic zone of 320,000-square-kilometers, has abundant marine resources, while Chinese fishing technology is well developed," he noted.

Total trade volume between China and Nauru during the first 11 months in 2023 reached approximately $5.49 million, which included $5.48 million worth of exports, and an import value of $3,442, according to China's General Administration of Customs.

"Nauru's future cooperation with China will provide broad channels and new avenues for the island country's future development in the international community and opens up a broader space for development," Rong Ying, a senior research fellow from China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.