BRI to help Pa­cific is­land na­tions grow

Xi trav­els to Pa­pua New Guinea for APEC 2018

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Huang Ge in Pa­pua New Guinea

China will en­cour­age the ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion of Pa­cific is­land coun­tries in the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive (BRI) in line with their own na­tional con­di­tions, strengths and de­vel­op­ment strate­gies, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said in a by­lined ar­ti­cle pub­lished in Pa­pua New Guinea’s news­pa­pers on Wed­nes­day.

“I am con­vinced that the BRI will open up new path­ways for Pa­cific is­land coun­tries to en­hance busi­ness ties and con­nec­tiv­ity with China, among them­selves and with the rest of the world, and for the is­land coun­tries to take a greater part in eco­nomic glob­al­iza­tion,” Xi noted.

Xi is sched­uled to ar­rive in Pa­pua New Guinea’s (PNG) cap­i­tal city of Port Moresby on Thurs­day and will at­tend the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion lead­ers’ meet­ing there from Satur­day to Sun­day.

As the largest and most pop­u­lous Pa­cific is­land coun­try and en­dowed with abun­dant nat­u­ral re­sources, Pa­pua New Guinea has enor­mous po­ten­tial for de­vel­op­ment and is truly a land of great prom­ise, Xi noted in the ar­ti­cle.

Chi­nese busi­ness own­ers and en­trepreneur­s work­ing in the coun­try told the Global Times that more prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Pa­pua New Guinea will be reached through the BRI, which has al­ready in­jected new im­pe­tus into the eco­nomic and so­cial growth of the Pa­cific is­land coun­try.

China State Con­struc­tion En­gi­neer­ing Corp (CSCEC) en­tered the Pa­pua

New Guinea mar­ket in 2014 and has been in­volved in the con­struc­tion of apart­ments, roads and a school, Ma Shuai, manag­ing di­rec­tor of CSCEC Steel, told the Global Times on Wed­nes­day.

Pa­pua New Guinea’s land­mass is about 462,800 square kilo­me­ters and it has rich re­sources, in­clud­ing min­er­als, agri­cul­ture, fish­eries and forestry, Ma noted. It also has great po­ten­tial as a tourist des­ti­na­tion, he said.

Pa­pua New Guinea’s un­der­de­vel­oped in­fra­struc­ture in sec­tors like power, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, ed­u­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion and med­i­cal care need im­prov­ing, Ma told the Global Times.

Un­der the BRI, the govern­ment of Shen­zhen, South China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Friendly Ex­change and Co­op­er­a­tion with Port Moresby in May 2016.

Batuka Acad­emy, also a PNG and China Friend­ship School (the schools built by China in the coun­try), which was built by CSCEC, was the first project un­der the mem­o­ran­dum and will soon be un­veiled.

Equipped with fa­cil­i­ties that are above the av­er­age stan­dard in China, Batuka Acad­emy can ac­com­mo­date about 3,000 stu­dents rang­ing from pre-school to sec­ondary school.

“I’m grate­ful be­cause my two-yearold daugh­ter can go to the school when she grows up,” a lo­cal res­i­dent who lives nearby and prefers to be anony­mous told the Global Times on Wed­nes­day.

“It can re­ally help solve prob­lems with the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in my coun­try,” she said.

More co­op­er­a­tion wel­comed

“The BRI has brought many op­por­tu­ni­ties to Pa­pua New Guinea and we look for­ward to em­brac­ing more,” a lo­cal en­gi­neer sur­named Uliando told the Global Times on Tues­day. He is work­ing on the con­struc­tion of a ho­tel sup­ported by China Rail­way Con­struc­tion Corp (CRCC) in Port Moresby.

In the first half of this year, Pa­pua New Guinea of­fi­cially joined the China-ini­ti­ated Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank and be­came the first Pa­cific is­land state to sign a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with China on BRI co­op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Xinhua News Agency.

“De­spite some past doubts, lo­cal firms and peo­ple have come to know more about us as an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese firms are start­ing to ex­pand in PNG,” Zhou Wen­jiang, gen­eral man­ager of the CRCC’s branch in PNG, told the Global Times.

“They ex­pect the BRI to bring greater de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to their coun­try,” Zhou noted.

The lo­cal in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment still re­quires so­lu­tions to a num­ber of prob­lems such as a lack of ad­min­is­tra­tive ef­fi­ciency and pub­lic se­cu­rity, which pose chal­lenges to Chi­nese com­pa­nies in the coun­try, Chi­nese busi­ness own­ers in Port Moresby said.

Tang Qiao­liang, gen­eral man­ager of China Har­bor En­gi­neer­ing, told the Global Times on Wed­nes­day that as the BRI ex­pands, more tie-ups be­tween the two coun­tries will help spur Pa­pua New Guinea’s so­cial and eco­nomic growth.

Bi­lat­eral trade be­tween the two na­tions was up 24.4 per­cent yearon-year to $2.84 bil­lion in 2017, and China’s in­vest­ment in the coun­try reached $3.04 bil­lion as of Oc­to­ber, In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Daily, a news­pa­per run by China’s Min­istry of Com­merce, re­ported on Mon­day.

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