China has made amazing changes over the past decades and China’s relations with the South Pacific island countries will be further strengthened under the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), which has already helped promote the social and economic development in the region, a Pacific regional organisation chief has said.
In a recent exclusive interview with a local news portal, Francois Martel, Secretary General of the Suva based Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), said that he has visited China five times over the past years and China has impressed him by having made significant achievements.
“I have visited China five times over the past 20 years and I have attended the two BRI conferences in Beijing since 2017 as PIDF Secretary-General. China has experienced remarkable changes over the past decades, especially over the last 40 years thanks to the reform and opening up,” he said.
“As a friend of China, I must say that this is amazing, it is not only good for China itself, but also good for the world as a whole”
From his point of view, a lot of beautiful things have occurred in China over the past decades such as improvement of the infrastructure and the living standard.
“It is the reform, including the agriculture reform, and opening up resulted in the great progress in China. We can see the high-speed trains and new airports across China and what impressed me most is the fact that (it) managed to eliminate poverty to such a level that created a miracle,” he said.
“The rise of people’s income has also helped raise their educational level and all this led to economic growth. There is no doubt that China has now become a world leader in technology innovation. I want to say that China’s change just in the last 40 years is really incredible and the world should learn from China,” he added.
He noted that he can see the changes from his visits while walking along the streets of Beijing.
“When we walked along the streets in Beijing or talked with our friends, we can feel China’s great changes over the past decades. I have a sense that the Chinese people are more confident than ever before about the development of the country,” Martel said.
He stressed that what the most important thing is China, as the largest developing country in the world, has not only developed itself but also been willing to help others such as the South Pacific island countries.
“Over the past years, you can see China has shown respect to the island countries and has invested a lot and has provided a lot of assistance to this region. What China has done in this region is mutually beneficial and a win-win situation. China has not imposed its views upon others, and this is different from other donors. And this is why China has been welcomed in our region,” he said.
Described as a timely product proposed by China and will be shared by the world, Martel said that BRI is a great platform and driver for the cooperation between the South Pacific region and China, and it has helped boost the social and economic development in this region.
“BRI will no doubt help develop the world, especially the developing countries like those in the South Pacific region to improve theirs out of date infrastructures. The facts in this region have already answered this question in recent years,” he said.
“There are a lot of examples, you can see the state of the art of the newly-built Samoan capital airport and the China-aided bridges in the Fijian capital of Suva, this will surely promote the island nation’s tourism, ease traffic congestion and help develop the local economy.”
Currently, a lot of the South Pacific island nations have inked deals with China within the framework of BRI and this means they welcome BRI, he said, adding that as a regional organization, PIDF also welcomes BRI and wants to be part of it.
“I think that BRI can inject impetus to further cooperation, and we can play a key role to become a good voice of BRI cooperation, and to help promote BRI cooperation based on mutual respect and common development in this region,” Martel said.
Martel voiced his support over the region’s move to strengthen its relations with China, saying that “The Pacific region now has a strong sense of deepening its relationship with China. It is the time to do it now because a better relationship with China means we can get access to the largest market in the world with endless opportunities, the access to the technology and the financial assistance.”
He said that China will enjoy a brighter future and with joint efforts, the win-win cooperation between China and the Pacific region will be raised to a new level.
Established in 2013, PIDF is a unique platform bringing together leaders from the public and private sectors and civil society to address the Pacific region’s development challenges, through mutually beneficial innovative partnerships. PIDF is also the Pacific’s inclusive and high participatory South-South platform for action on the green economy.