"I'm very impressed by China's progress": Vanuatu PM
2010-08-10 12:34

PORT VILA, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei said here on Sunday that he was satisfied with the current bilateral relations with China and hoped to promote the bilateral ties to a new level.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua at his office, Natapei said,"I'm very satisfied with the status quo, the current situation we have with China, and I believe both countries are continuing to build on the existing relationship. What we have so far is helping lifting that further up."

The prime minister said thanks to the frequent contacts and high level visits by both governments, the relations between Vanuatu and China was fastly developed. "For the last few years, we have some of the high level leaders from China to visit Vanuatu. That's to me is just taking the next step building on that relationship. Recently just before the Forum meeting, we have the Vice Minister of China's Commerce Ministry Ma Xiuhong coming to join us in the celebration of 30 years anniversary of Vanuatu's independence. Then we have the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cui Tiankai to join us in the post- forum meeting." He also said he was deeply impressed by the economic development and reform in China. "There is one common thing that I can see and that is the pace of the development that is going on in China. It's just taking off, it's going so fast. I was particularly impressed with the development in Shenzhen, for example."

He noted that after visiting China, the Vanuatu officials felt it necessary to re-look at their legislation, and even looked at the possibilities of drawing from the examples of Shenzhen and trying to build the nation up. "What we're doing at the moment is to identify some properties in the islands in Vanuatu. With that availability of land here, we can now start negotiating with investors from China to come to Vanuatu. We have already identified someone from the private sector to start talking with investors from China. And the reaction so far has been very positive."

The 56-year-old prime minister, who has visited China many times, said he was confident that given the next 10 years with further possibilities of investment from China, "Vanuatu is going to be taking off as one of the fast developing countries in the Pacific region. "

Talking about the just-concluded Pacific Island Forum leaders' meeting held here in Port Vila, Natapei, who serves as the current chairman of the forum, said he was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting because we're just going to continue with some very important issues.

"When we look at the climate change, for example, that is very serious issue for the Pacific Island countries. And all the leaders of the Pacific felt that it's important that we continue to talk to the international community to see how best we can access the funds that we were pledged by the donor countries.

Because up until this point of time, some of that funding has not been accessed. So I think it's important as the Chair of the Forum, I'll continue to follow up on these issues and try to equip our governments in the region to access the funding. That will be our priority we'll be looking at over the next 12 months," he said.