China-Nauru ties open a new chapter in history: Xi
China's relations with Nauru likely to serve as model for PICs: experts
Published: Mar 25, 2024 09:26 PM
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with visiting Nauruan President David Adeang at a welcome ceremony held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 25, 2024. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with visiting Nauruan President David Adeang at a welcome ceremony held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 25, 2024. Photo: Xinhua

Nauru's political decision to adhere to the one-China principle and restore diplomatic ties with China in January is a move that conforms to the trend of history and the times, Chinese President Xi Jinping told visiting Nauruan President David Adeang on Monday in Beijing 

Xi said China-Nauru relations have opened a new chapter in history, and China is ready to work with Nauru to create a better future of China-Nauru relations and bring more benefits to the two peoples. Friendship, whenever it is started, will have a bright future. Cooperation, whatever its size, will be productive as long as it is sincere, Xi said, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Experts said that China's relationship with Nauru, which is based on mutual respect and support, is likely to serve as a model for the Pacific Island Countries (PICs). Moreover, the reason why the PICs have preferred deepening their relationship with China is that, unlike the West, China's approach is characterized by long-term commitment, equality, and genuine support for their development, rather than driven by geopolitical competition.

Xi said China welcomes Nauru as another country to sign the Belt and Road cooperation document with China.

He said China is ready to expand practical cooperation with Nauru in trade, investment and infrastructure construction, and provide assistance to Nauru for its independent and sustainable development without political strings attached. 

Adeang said that Nauru highly appreciates China's consistent adherence to the principle of equality among all countries, and is willing to abide by the one-China principle, continuously deepen cooperation with China, take the resumption of diplomatic relations between Nauru and China as an important opportunity, observe mutual respect with China, enhance understanding, strengthen personnel exchanges and cooperation in various fields, learn from China's experience, and develop a fruitful and mutually beneficial partnership.

The two sides signed various documents on cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, Global Development Initiative and in the fields of economy and agriculture.

This is the first visit by a Nauruan president after the two countries resumed diplomatic ties in January 2024. 

"China's support and attention to these countries has been long-standing and unwavering," Ning Tuanhui, an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday. "In contrast, countries like the US have only recently begun to prioritize their engagement with the PICs, primarily as part of their geopolitical scheme to counter China," Ning said.

In addition, China has adhered to the principle of equality among nations, regardless of their size. The majority of these island countries are small in terms of landmass and population, making them easily overlooked in the international arena. But China has always treated them with respect and equality, which has earned wide recognition from the PICs, Ning noted.

Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center of East China Normal University, said that the biggest difference is that China fully respects their sovereignty and historical traditions. 

"It means not imposing our own political, economic, or social preferences, models, or frameworks on these countries. This is particularly crucial because Western countries often operate under a Eurocentric mind-set, believing that their institutions and practices are superior and must be imposed on the PICs. This lack of respect can lead to serious cultural and societal clashes," Chen told the Global Times on Monday.

China believes that providing tangible benefits to the local population is paramount. Within the framework of South-South cooperation, China has provided substantial assistance in areas such as infrastructure and public welfare. Many PICs have benefited from improved infrastructure and essential services like healthcare, particularly through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative.

A case in point is Nauru's largest harbor currently being constructed by Chinese companies. With parts of the project finished, oil tankers can now directly dock to unload oil there, opening a new chapter for the country.

The five-year project has also brought cutting-edge technologies and job opportunities to the island country, promoting the local economy by expanding its connectivity with the rest of the world.