Fiji Time: 2:31 AM on Monday 22 December

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China says it is for peace and not power politics

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CHINA follows a national defence policy that is defensive in nature but does not pose a threat to any country, said Chinese Embassy spokesman Lihua Hu.

He was responding to a submission made by Canterbury University Associate Professor John Henderson that riots such as those that happened in Tonga and the Solomon Islands could happen in Fiji and Vanuatu and give a reason for China to bring in its military to protect the Chinese community here.

"China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and developing relations with Pacific countries on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and respect," said Mr Hu.

"China has offered a lot of aid to the Pacific island countries including Fiji, with no political conditions attached.

"China does not pose a military threat to any other country. China opposes all forms of hegemonism and power politics and will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion." Mr Hu said China did not station any troops or set up any military base in any foreign country and the submission by Prof Henderson as reported in the New Zealand Herald which alleged that China would send its military to the region was groundless.

Mr Hua said Chinese people living in Fiji and abroad were hard working, peace-loving, law-abiding and had adapted well to and enjoyed harmonious relations with the locals.

He said they contributed a lot to the development of the host country.

Prof Henderson's comment was part of his submission to the New Zealand Parliament's foreign affairs select committee inquiring into NZ relations with Pacific countries and was labelled far-fetched by Parmesh Chand, the permanent secretary in the interim Prime Minister's Office.

Mr Chand said Fiji had no problem with Chinese people living in Fiji because they were law abiding and Fiji was a multi-cultural country where people's rights were protected.

Prof Henderson believes the region has not seen the last of such rioting against Chinese residing on island nations.

The article reported there were claims the rioting in Nuku'alofa, in which eight people died, was used by Tongan business owners as a cover to target their more successful Chinese competitors.

The professor said the same could happen in Vanuatu and Fiji where it is estimated there are now more than 20,000 Chinese living there.

He said Pacific island traders were anxious their livelihood was being taken away by Chinese traders, often getting in by buying political privilege, playing a role in rigging elections and cutting locals out of the action, not being sensitive to the local customs and cultural practices.

Meanwhile, a senior army officer who did not want to be named, said if New Zealand and Australia saw it fit to bring in their troops to protect their citizens in the region, they should not react if China did the same to protect its citizens.

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