Tonga’s participation at the Second Belt Road Forum 26-27 April, was commemorated with a reception at the Chinese Embassy, Nuku’alofa on Wednesday evening, 7 May 2019.
Tonga was represented at the Forum by HRH Princess Pilolevu Tuita, the president of the Tonga China Friendship Association; the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Semisi Sika, and the Minister for MEIDECC, Hon. Poasi Tei.
According to HE Yang Zhaohui, the Chinese Charge d’affaires to Tonga, more than 6000 delegates and 92 international organisations from 150 countries attended the Forum.
During the Forum, President Xi Jinping discussed with delegates his signature infrastructure project, which began in 2013 to rebuild ancient trading routes across Eurasia.
On November 8, 2014 he announced that China would contribute US $40 billion to establish the Silk Road Fund. Since 2014 trade between China and countries, which are members of the Belt Road Forum, has exceeded $6 trillion US Dollars, and investment has exceeded $80 billion US Dollars.
There are two main directions for the Belt Road. The first is to reach the Indian Ocean from China’s coastal ports and extend to Europe. The second is from China’s coastal ports through the south China Sea to the south Pacific.
HE Yang Zhaohui emphasised that when New Zealand took the lead and joined the Belt Road Initiative in 2017, many Pacific Island Countries, including Tonga, Papu New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu signed the Memorandum of Understanding of the Belt Road Initiative.
Tonga’s Prime Minister, Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva and the Chinese Ambassador to Tonga HE Wang Baodong signed the Belt and Road Initiative Memorandum of Understanding in Nuku’alofa on 12 November 2018.
“Asia and the Pacific is an indispensable part of the BRI”, said HE Yang Zhaohui.
He reminded the gathering of the assistance that China has given Tongan during the past few years, including the St George Building. Later this year theu will support the reconstruction of Tonga High School.
China has awarded 269 scholarships for Tongan students to study in China and more than 900 Tongans have been on training programs in China.
More Chinese tourists are coming to Tonga, and more Chinese companies are keen to make investment in Tonga.
“More jobs will be created and more revenue will be generated. It will improve the living standard of Tongans.”
During the Second Belt Road Forum, Tonga, was given a 2.25 Megawatt wind power station by the Chinese government. Tonga is one of the 29 members of the Belt and Road Energy Partnership.