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China announces initiatives to expand ties with PIF member countries
THE Chinese government is committed to working with members countries of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) to enhance bilateral and multilateral ties.

The head of the Chinese delegation to the 15th Post Forum dialogue in Auckland Mr. Zhou Whenzhong, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, told journalists that China would explore ways to cooperate with the Pacific region countries. China has been a partner to the forum for 15 years.

Mr Zhou yesterday announced five initiatives that his government would be taking to enhance ties. These are:

China would join the South Pacific Tourism Organisation;

It would organise short training courses, including studies, visits and field trips in the first half of next year for diplomats from forum island members that have diplomatic ties with China;

Provide US$300,000 over the next three years to the forum secretariat for the petroleum advisory project;

Welcome forum island member delegations to the China International Fair for Investment and Trade in Xiamen in September and the China International Travel Show planned for November;
Welcome a delegation of journalists from forum island members in September.

Mr Whenzhong said these initiatives were intended to express China's sincerity in developing friendly relations with the forum members.

He also reaffirmed China's stand on Taiwan and warned forum members not to deal with it.

"As an inter-governmental organisation of sovereign states, the PIF should refrain from any exchanges of an official nature or dialogue partnership of any form with Taiwan. We appreciate that all PIF meetings have thus far followed the basic norms governing international relations by not making Taiwan a PIF dialogue partner."
He also said China was ready to further develop its economic relations with member countries under the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) and the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA).c
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