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Great Hall protocols move to island province
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08:35, April 11, 2008

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 Tongan King starts China visit
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Amid the cool ocean breeze and swaying coconut trees, the ceremony to welcome Tongan King Taufa'ahau Tupou V on Hainan island laid claim yesterday to being the first ever State reception for a foreign leader outside Beijing.

The Tongan King also became the first foreign leader to inspect the guard of honor of the People's Liberation Army by the sea in the southernmost province.

Since 1949, China has held its State welcome ceremony either inside or outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

But this time, in an exceptional move to receive the 10 heads of state to Hainan for the 7th Boao Forum for Asia, the country decided to move the whole reception from the capital to the resort city.

From the military band to the guard of honor, and the State dinner chef to the dinnerware, every item that formed the reception in the capital was transported onto the island to ensure that the ceremony would be exactly as it would have been in Beijing.

Two other foreign leaders - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete are scheduled to enjoy similar treatment today.

Sino-Tongan ties

Sporting a hat and white suit, Tupou V said his current China tour is his first state visit since he succeeded the throne in September 2006.

Calling the Tongan king an old friend, President Hu Jintao said China is ready to continue offering aid that is within its capacity to Tonga, to help the Pacific island country develop its economy.

The two countries yesterday signed three cooperative agreements on China's aid and interest-free loans to Tonga.

This year is also the 10th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties between the two countries, and Hu said China is willing to expand cooperation to benefit their two peoples.

King Tupou V expressed gratitude for China's assistance, saying that Tonga adheres to the one-China policy and supports the country's handling of the recent Lhasa riots.

Peace for Sri Lanka

Meeting with Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa later yesterday, President Hu said China wished for the early resumption of peace, stability and prosperity in the South Asian nation.

Rajapaksa briefed Hu on Sri Lanka's domestic situation and said that he attaches great importance to his participation in the forum.

Hu said China will send a senior-level delegation to attend the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, which is slated to be held in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo in the summer.

Source: China Daily

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