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South Pacific nations slam Australian minister for irresponsible remarks on China

By Sun Wenyu (People's Daily Online)    16:42, January 22, 2018

Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific has been slammed by South Pacific nations for her irresponsible remarks on China.

Australian Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells accused China of constructing “useless buildings” and “roads to nowhere” on South Pacific islands earlier this month.

Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi on Jan. 12 said the criticism of Fierravanti-Wells is “insulting” to Pacific Island leaders, and could “destroy” Australia’s relationship with the region.

Vanuatu’s newspaper Daily Post published an article rebuking Fierravanti-Wells’s point, saying these roads lead to their homes rather than “nowhere.”

“The government of Australia might want to put down those stones it’s throwing at China and learn a thing or two from its own mistakes first. And talking over our heads about our shortcomings isn’t going to win them many friends here, either,” the newspaper said, adding that the road project aided by Australia in Vanuatu four years ago has become the butt of jokes.

Tuilaepa introduced that Australia has promised a wholly-aided parliament building several years ago as a gift for the 50th anniversary of Samoa’s independence. However, the South Pacific Island was later requested to raise part of the funding by itself.

“Such practice is common for Australia, but China has always kept its promises,” Tuilaepa remarked.

Tonga’s Minister of Justice Sione Vuna Fā’otusia noted China’s aid for South Pacific countries on infrastructure construction is indeed boosting the local economy. China is a large economy, and Australia is not able to match it in every aspect, Fā’otusia noted, adding that it is good for Tonga to cooperate with China.

On Jan. 11, two bridges in Fiji aided by China officially opened, largely improving the local traffic. Fijian newspaper Fiji Sun commented that China’s assistance has brought significant benefits to Fiji’s economy and society.

Back in 2014, Chinese leader has already expressed the sincere hope of China to share development experiences and results with South Pacific islands.

China is willing to deepen the cooperation with these nations in the areas of trade, fishing, ocean development, resources, and infrastructure. In addition, the country has also adopted a tariff-free policy for 97% of the imported goods from the least-developed countries.

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(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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