Papua New Guinea's PM calls for deepening cooperation with China
Peter O'Neil, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea during an interview with Chinese media.[Photo: China Plus]
Final preparations are underway for Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip this week to Papua New Guinea, where he'll be attending this year's APEC summit and making an official visit to the country.
Peter O'Neil, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, says he believes the relationship between China and Papua New Guinea is the best its been since the two formally launched diplomatic ties 42 years ago.
"President Xi Jingping is a very good friend of Papua New Guinea. Our relationship is very cordial. We place a very great importance to that. President Xi is a very strong leader, and he is a leader that gets huge responsibility, not only in China, but for the rest of the world,"says O'Neil.
Peter O'Neil says his government is committed to its strategic partnership with China, and says he hopes their strong ties can also create opportunities for other island countries in South Pacific.
"I think it is a growing area, and the relationship is very vibrant. We feel that China is very significant for this region. And there are big challenges of climate changes, the risen sea levels, and the leadership of President Xi Jinping provides in that is something we want to hear and support."
China is PNG's third-largest trading partner. Papua New Guinea is China's leading oil provider in the south Pacific. Peter O'Neil notes his country was the first to sign an MoU on the Belt and Road Initiative among Pacific island countries.
"China is experiencing something that is admirable, and I think many countries in the region can benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative that President Xi is pursuing. For international developing countries like Papua New Guinea, it is a great initiative, because the access to capital, access to infrastructure, leaving capacities that now we are developing and improve the living standard for our people."
Peter O'Neil also says that the upcoming APEC is significant for his country, as it will provide it with an opportunity to highlight itself on the international stage.
Noting an initial reluctance by certian APEC members when Papua New Guinea first applied to host the APEC Summit 2-years ago, O'Neil says he thinks it was a promise by Xi Jinping at the time which convinced other APEC members to eventually come around.
"We are grateful to China, for the support that they are giving us. Without Chinese support, I don't think we could have a successful AEPC. So we acknowledge this support and we look forward to corporate with them. It is a great opportunity for both countries, and a lot of business from both China and Papua New Guinea can benefit greatly from this AEPC in 2018,"says O'Neil.
Beyond APEC, O'Neill notes China has also been increasing its contributions to various sectors in Papua New Guinea, including agriculture, infrastructure, education, employment and health care.