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Ali: Fiji can play significant role

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, November 01, 2017

FIJI could play a significant role in helping China achieve its Belt and Road Forum agenda — the People's Republic's planned international cooperation platform.

This was revealed by Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali while addressing about 600 participants at the 11th Worldwide Zhongshan Association Convention 2017 in Nadi last week Friday.

The 600 were former Zhongshan residents who now reside in other parts of the world.

"In May 2017, our Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama attended the Belt and Road Forum which was chaired by his excellency Xi Jinping, the President of the People's Republic of China," he said.

"He was the only Pacific leader present at the forum which demonstrated the significant role Fiji can play to achieve the vision of the Belt and Road Forum."

Mr Ali said Fiji's unique relationship with China was further strengthened when Governor of Guangdong Province Ma Xing Rui extended a special invitation to Industry and Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya to be part of the 2017 Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo.

"It is indeed pleasing to note that an average of 25 per cent of the total trade between Fiji and China originates from the province of Guangdong, which the city of Zhongshan is part of.

"A large majority of Fijians of Chinese descent are from Zhongshan City and speak the Longdu dialect.

"Therefore, Fiji has a strong historical linkage with the city of Zhongshan.

"This people-to-people and cultural links has been a key pillar of the bilateral economic relations between the two countries.

"Two-way trade flow between Fiji and China has continued to grow and increased by 22 per cent over the past five years while tourism numbers have risen tenfold in the same period."

Mr Ali said hosting the 11th Worldwide Zhongshan Association Convention 2017 under China's Belt and Road Forum banner was of huge benefit to Fiji.

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