Timor-Leste hopes to boost ties with China: deputy PM

17:05, May 04, 2010      

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Timor-Leste is hoping to strengthen relationship with China in terms of economic, social, agriculture and defense, a high-ranking official told Xinhua in an interview recently.

Timor-Leste's Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres said that China has been contributing much for Timor-Leste and he expects the relationship is well-maintained based on mutual respect.

"Even though China is one of largest countries in the world, but in our relationship we feel respect from the Chinese, and also friendship," said Guterres.

Guterres also mentioned his intention to attract Chinese tourists, to send students to China and to take benefit of Shanghai World Expo.

In tourism, Guterres said "I've already seen million of Chinese middle income traveling every year as tourists. I've see many Chinese coming to Bali, Indonesia, and to other places. We just want 0.1 percent of these people, or little bit more. If they could come here as tourist, they will provide great opportunities for us, creating jobs in tourism sector."

In education, Guterres said that he intends to send young Timorese to study in China.

"I was once in Wuhan University and I met a dean there. He said that he would be happy to receive some Timorese to study there," he said, adding that the country is preparing budget for the purpose.

According to Guterres, the students will learn about technology on irrigation system, agriculture and medicine.

He also said that the country will introduce Mandarin in schools.

"By introducing Mandarin, we prepare future for generation as China develops very fast. China is playing major role in the world' s economy. It provided cushion for world economy in crisis that could not be done by the U.S. and the European Union," he said.

Commenting about the Shanghai World Expo, Guterres said that it was the once-lifetime event. "We know that China organized it very professionally as you did with the Olympic," he said.

He said that Timor-Leste used the event to provide opportunity to show his country to China and the world.

"We showed our beauty of our country, the mountains, the rivers that we have to attract tourist to visit," said Guterres.

Guterres also said "We want to attract Chinese companies to invest here, not just big but also smaller ones, to play major role as Timor is a very small market."

Chinese companies constructed irrigation system and helped the country in building roads, he said.

"We held an international tender for electricity and power grid, joined by 16 international companies from many countries. It was won by a Chinese company. And, in 2011 the projects will be finished," said Guterres, adding that the results will be beneficial as it will contribute to protect environment.

"People will no longer cut trees for cooking, family's life will be much easier in educating children, thus accelerating development," he said.

Commenting on defense cooperation, Guterres said that China provided much contribution for his country.

"In defense, we have naval patrol boats bought from China. They patrol in Timor-Leste's coasts as we loss 40 million U.S. dollar every year due to illegal fishing. They patrol in the exclusive economic zone of Timor-Leste," he said.

China established diplomatic relation with Timor Leste in 2002.



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