By Godwin Ligo,
In March 2017, China and Vanuatu celebrated the 35th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries and their people.
In Port Vila, both the Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu, Lui Quan, and the Vanuatu Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, recalled in their respective speeches to mark the occasion, many achievements between the two countries that continue to provide diplomatic and bilateral relationships between Beijing and Port Vila.
In his speech on the occasion, the Vanuatu Prime Minister Salwai, reflected on the 35 years of relationship between the two countries which he described as “enduring ties between our two countries but also the acknowledgement to China for its recognition of Vanuatu as a newly independent state back in 1982.”
He emphasized that this period of time laid the foundation of the important relations which had progressed in succeeding years from strength to strength,” the Vanuatu Prime Minister Salwai expressed during the occasion.
“We recall with gratitude and satisfaction, the solidarity exhibited by China during the past 35 years.
“We have come to know one another and built our relations based on mutual trust, understanding and confidence which exist only between the closest friends.
“Fundamental to Vanuatu’s relations with China is the adherence to the one China policy, which is a pillar of Vanuatu’s foreign policy.
“With joint efforts from both sides, we have witnessed remarkable progress in our bilateral relations and a level of exchanges continued to be enhanced,” Salwai emphasized.
The PM further recalled China’s support to Vanuatu before the country gained independence in 1980.
“It is interesting to recall on the events that led up to 26th March, 1982 in our history.
“By China’s stern support to Vanuatu in its fight for Independence, it had gone a long way in recognizing Vanuatu as a state.
“It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the contribution and efforts of the past leadership who have made tremendous contribution in growing the relation between our two countries.
“As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of this important relations, I wish to also pay respect to our former leaders some of whom are still with us today, for their vision and insight,” said PM Salwai.
“Our strong relations have provided the impetus which has led to increasing dimensions in bilateral cooperation particular in the areas such as Agriculture, Fisheries, Health, Sports, Rural Development, Infrastructure and Telecommunication, programs of which have contributed immensely to the economic and social development of the
“Our people to people contacts have steadily increased as well as at the level of our two governments.
“Our Governments have widened the avenues of cooperation and collaboration not only at the bilateral level but also at the regional and international levels,” the Prime Minister stressed.
Salwai also highlighted in his speech, the number of Chinese in Vanuatu which he described as our friends: “More than 2,000 local Chinese, who have lived in Vanuatu for generations, are our good friends and dear relatives.
“For many years, they have been living in harmony and amity with the people of this land; have made unique and important contributions to the national economy and promoting the Sino-Vanuatu friendship.
“On behalf of the Vanuatu Government I wish to extend our greetings and sincere appreciation to the Chinese community in Vanuatu and commend them for their efforts. The Government looks forward to your continued support towards achieving our development aspirations,” PM Salwai expressed in his speech.
“Today China stands as one of Vanuatu’s major development partners where mutual cooperation and development aid program has brought tangible benefits to our people.
“The Government is indebted to China’s genuine flexibility in its assistance which is targeting the 80% predominantly rural population in Vanuatu.
“These key infrastructure investments are transforming the environmental landscape and surely will spur economic activities in the rural
areas of Vanuatu and positively contributing to the wellbeing and livelihood of our people.
“The construction of China’s new chancery in Vanuatu is warmly welcomed.
“It sends a clear message together with all the development support that you are providing that the future of our relations is bright,” remarked Salwai.
The head of Government said through the lens of history, the relationship between Vanuatu and China sets the direction for the deepening and expansion of the relationship into the future between the two countries.
He said Vanuatu will continue political trust, deepened mutual cooperation and promote exchanges with the People’s Republic of China.
“Through these efforts I am adamant that this current government can achieve its policy initiatives, one of which is to grow our economy by attracting more genuine investment to our shores,” Mr Salwai stated in his speech.
The prime minister concluded his speech by welcoming China’s assistance to Vanuatu: “To this end the government is determined to improve our key international ports of entry to facilitate increased visitors from China to take advantage of and enjoy the pristine and untapped natural environment and resources which makes Vanuatu what it is,” said PM Salwai.
“In closing, it is my desire that with concerted efforts from both sides, we will step up cooperation by cultivating wider engagements in the areas of our common interests towards our shared destiny,” PM Salwai conclude his speech on the 35th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Vanuatu and China.