Speech by Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa Fiji's Acting Minister for Foreign Affirs
2015-11-06 12:09

Your Excellency, Zhang Ping, Ambassador for the People’s Republic of China to Fiji

Honorable Ministers and Members of Parliament,

YourExcellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps.

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed a great honour and privilege to be here today to share in the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Fiji-China Bilateral relations.

I share our Prime Minister’s sentiments on the strong friendship we have, and consider China’s unwavering commitment to our socio-economic development as the benchmark for future co-operation.

On a personal note, let me say, that a whole generation of Fijian leaders has grown up in the last 40 years, now fully committed to taking our relationship to the next level.

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen

In 1975, when the then Fijian Government formalised relations with China through the signing of a joint communique on 5 November, the world was still a new place for our newly independent nation.

Since then we’ve consolidated our co-operation in various fields. The guiding principles to our special relationship are:

One, adherence to respect for national sovereignty;

two, non-interference in internal domestic affairs;

three, peaceful resolution of disputes; and

four, mutual assistance and support in economic and social development

In the last 8 years development projects have been categorised under the following themes:

Firstly, Political Co-operation

It is a mutual understanding that both countries politically support each other and do not interfere in the other’s internal affairs;

Secondly, Economic Co-operation

It is a point to emphasise that the economies of both countries are complementary; Fiji has the natural resources whilst China has the strength in financing technology and market;

I am quite happy to highlight that China’s investment in Fiji has reached almost $FJD200 million and China’s companies have successfully implemented projects in the various sectors of our economy.

Thirdly, Cultural Co-operation.

In the area of education, a Confucius Institute has been established at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Campus. This will go a long way to promoting Chinese language and culture in Fiji. At least for now, Chinese language is taught at one of our schools in Suva.

In the area of social engagement, the establishment of the Fiji-China Friendship Association is an avenue for people to people network and contact.

Fijians are also more than happy to showcase their culture at the various trade and tourism forums and expos in China. These cultural exchanges have also been helped he increased number of exchanges between our countries, especially in visits by delegations.


Ladies and gentlemen

Fiji’s engagement with China has been aggressive in the last eight years, for reasons alluded to by the Prime Minister earlier today.

In adopting the ‘Look North’ Policy, the objective for Government has been to widen bilateral relations and seek fresh sources of trade, investment and developmental support from other countries. In other words, this strategy is to diversify Fiji’s relationships with other countries.

Through this ‘Look North’ policy, Fiji has aspired to strengthen relations with Asia in general and China in particular as the Government looks for new markets to meet the country’s investment aspirations.

Through this policy, Government has committed to strengthen relations with old friends like China and also establish new relations.


Ladies and gentlemen

Let me reiterate the Prime Minister’s comments that Fiji is steadfast in her commitment to the ‘One China Policy’ in accordance with the principles and spirit of the UN Charter.

In fact, Fiji has been adhering to this policy as the central tenet of its relations with China since it established diplomatic relations with the latter in 1975.

Lastly, in honour of this occasion, as we look back over the last 40 years, it would be remiss of me not to highlight some of the major projects that the Chinese Government has assisted Fiji with. The assistance from the Chinese Government has been a multi-sector approach, even in humanitarian emergency assistance.

To name a few, some of the bigger projects completed with Chinese Government aid include:

  • Multipurpose Stadium Project and development of sports facilities at the Laucala Sports City
  • Navuso bridge project;
  • SomosomoHydroelectric power
  • Rokobili Container Terminal Project in Suva
  • Naqali Bridge Project;
  • Vaturu Hydropower project in Nadi
  • A multi-million Navua Hospital
  • Rural road upgrading projects
  • Dreketi to Nabouwalu Road Upgrading Project

Apart from this list, the Government of China has also helped with:

  • Technical assistance in the agricultural sector, particularly in rice and vegetable cultivation
  • Training for senior military personnel at the National Defence University in Beijing
  • Training for senior Fijian diplomats and senior public officials


Ladies and gentlemen

Let, me say, at this juncture, it was certainly a proud moment for the Fijian Government to witness the participation of our small contingent from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) at the V-Day Parade, only a few weeks ago, in Beijing. Our participation at the event is indicative of the friendly relations and strong partnerships we have established.

Fijians have certainly enjoyed the benefits of the many forms of assistance provided by the Chinese Government over the years. At the same time, we have also offered China the support through political alliances and economic partnership over the years. We certainly have a lot to offer each other which provides greater potential for improved relations.

In pointing the way forward, let me say, there is a renewed sense of optimism.


Ladies and gentlemen

In the past year, in his visit to our shores in November last year, His Excellency, President Xi Jinping was able to co-sign nine different memorandums of understanding with the Fijian Government. This comprehensive framework sets the path for future co-operation.

The MOUs cover:

-Industry, Trade and Tourism

-Climate Change

-Economic and Technical Cooperation

-the Establishment of China Cultural Centre in Fiji

-Defense Cooperation

-Sports Cooperation

-Joint Feasibility Study on a Fiji China Free Trade

-Grant Project of the Vunidawa Sporting Complex

-Visa Exemption

The visa exemption for Chinese nationals travelling to Fiji and Fijian national travelling to China is in itself a demonstration of the improved connectivity of our countries.

We envisage a stronger economic and social partnership with China, with better co-operation through improved and more effective bilateral engagement.

Already, we are seeing the signs with increased visits by Chinese delegations to Fiji. Our partnership should become stronger with improved relationships from province to province, city to city and people to people. Connectivity, is the operative term here, and we expect more social and cultural dialogue in the future.


Ladies and gentlemen

Again, my appreciation goes out to Ambassador Zhan Ping for the invitation to today’s celebrations and also my appreciation to the staff of the Chinese embassy for organising and facilitating our participation.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Fiji, I wish to congratulate the Government and the people of China in the celebration of the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations and we look forward to the next 40 years of prosperity and even deeper relations between our two countries and our two peoples.