China’s top Fisheries Official met with the Fisheries Minister of East Timor last week, promising Chinese Investment and Cooperation in developing seafood processing and logistics facilities for the Island State.

China Vice Minister for Agriculture Yu Kangzhen, who oversees fisheries and aquaculture, told visiting Joaquim José Gusmão Dos Reis Martins, East Timor’s Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, that China wants to further help with cold-chain logistics and processing.

Yu also said China sees East Timor as an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Beijing blueprint to integrate the region with China’s economy through infrastructure links. Yu further extended offers of Chinese aid on hybrid rice and corn, as well as mechanisation of East Timorese Agriculture.

Chinese fishing firms have sought to expand operations in East Timor, an island nation located between Indonesia and northern Australia. The country ranks as one of Asia’s lower-income nations.

There was no mention during the Minister’s visit to Beijing of the 2017 scandal when a leading Chinese distant-water fishing company was found to have illegally caught large numbers of sharks in East Timor’s waters.

The fleet was operated by Hong Long Fisheries, the same owners of the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999, which was later seized by Ecuadorian authorities for shark-finning in the waters of the UNESCO World Heritage Center-protected Galapagos Islands.

East Timor’s National Aquaculture Development Strategy (2012-2030), seeks to expand tilapia farming in order to hit an ultimate goal of upping aquaculture output to 12,000 tons by 2030.

The plan is part of an effort to combat malnutrition in the country by increasing per capita consumption of fish from 6.1 to 15 kilograms.