China–Vanuatu relations

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Sino-ni-Vanuatu relations
Map indicating locations of China and Vanuatu

China

Vanuatu

The Republic of Vanuatu and the People's Republic of China (PRC) established official diplomatic relations on March 26, 1982. China established an embassy in Vanuatu in 1989, while Vanuatu established an honorary consulate in China in 1999; it officially became an embassy in 2005.[1] The current Ambassador of China in Vanuatu is Cheng Shuping.[2] The current Ambassador of Vanuatu in China is former Minister of Finance Willie Jimmy.[3]

The Chinese government officially considers that Vanuatu and China "have made tireless efforts and cooperation endeavors to promote and further strengthen friendship and cooperation for the benefit of [the two countries'] peoples and nations", and that China and Vanuatu "have smooth cooperation in economic, trade, agricultural, tourism, sports and other fields".[1]

For its part, the government of Vanuatu officially considers that "China and Vanuatu have enjoyed a vibrant and long lasting relationship based on mutual understanding, friendship and genuine cooperation", and that "Vanuatu's relations with China and the adherence to the One-China policy are one of the fundamental pillars of Vanuatu's foreign policy".[4]

In June 2009, Vanuatu's ambassador to China, Willie Jimmy, "call[ed] [...] for China to have a foot firmly planted in the Pacific through Port Vila", a comment which -the Vanuatu Daily Post remarked- "no doubt caused ruffled feathers among other foreign diplomatic partners".[5]

Context[edit]

detailed article: Sino-Pacific relations

Oceania is, to the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan), a stage for continuous diplomatic competition. Eight states in Oceania recognise the PRC, and six recognise the ROC. These numbers fluctuate as Pacific Island nations re-evaluate their foreign policies, and occasionally shift diplomatic recognition between Beijing and Taipei. In keeping with the "One China" policy, it is not possible for any country to maintain official diplomatic relations with "both Chinas", and this "either/or" factor has resulted in the PRC and the ROC actively courting diplomatic favours from small Pacific nations.[6][7] In 2003, the People's Republic of China announced it intended to enhance its diplomatic ties with the Pacific Islands Forum, and increase the economic aid package it provided to that organisation. At the same time, PRC delegate Zhou Whenzhong added: "[T]he PIF should refrain from any exchanges of an official nature or dialogue partnership of any form with Taiwan".[8] In 2006, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that the PRC would increase its economic cooperation with Pacific Island States. The PRC would provide more economic aid, abolish tariffs for exports from the Pacific's least developed countries, annul the debt of those countries, distribute free anti-malaria medicines, and provide training for two thousand Pacific Islander government officials and technical staff.[9] Also in 2006, Wen became the first Chinese premier to visit the Pacific islands, which the Taipei Times described as "a longtime diplomatic battleground for China and Taiwan". Similarly, according to Ron Crocombe, Professor of Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific, "There have been more Pacific Islands minister visits to China than to any other country".[10]

Economic relations[edit]

In 2006, Vanuatu signed an economic cooperation agreement with the PRC, whereby the latter was to assist Vanuatu's economic development, and remove tariffs on imports from Vanuatu. The PRC also added Vanuatu to its list of approved tourism destinations for Chinese tourists. Ni-Vanuatu trade minister James Bule said his country had also requested China's assistance "in supplying machines so we can establish a plant in Vanuatu to produce bio fuel".[11]

In 2002, the countries' bilateral trade was worth €1.294 million, of which just over €1 million imported by Vanuatu from China, and over €200,000 imported by China from Vanuatu. Vanuatu imports Chinese garments, shoes, textiles, medicines, foods and light industrial products, while China imports ni-Vanuatu "plants to be used for killing insects and bacteria, as well as buttons and sown timber".[12]

According to the government of Vanuatu, "China is recognized as one of Vanuatu's major development partners".[4]

Relations in culture and education[edit]

In July 2002, the Hebei Acrobatic Troupe performed in Vanuatu, followed by the Chinese Acrobatic and Folk Orchestra Troupe in June 2007.

Since 2005, the Chinese Central Television has been broadcasting in Vanuatu. Chinese Radio International has been available to ni-Vanuatu listeners since 2007.[13]

In terms of education, since 1995, China has provided quotas of scholarships for ni-Vanuatu students to study in China ; nine ni-Vanuatu students were provided with scholarships in the 2007/08 university year. As of 2008, there were two Chinese language teachers, sent by China, in Vanuatu.[13]

Relationship with Taiwan[edit]

From 1982 to 2004, Vanuatu consistently recognised the People's Republic of China. In November 2004, Prime Minister Serge Vohor briefly established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan), before being ousted for that reason in a vote of no confidence the following month.[14][15] Vanuatu has recognised the PRC ever since. Nonetheless, Vohor remained a critic of what he perceived as China's excessive influence on the ni-Vanuatu government.[14]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "China-Vanuatu Relations", PRC embassy in Vanuatu, June 20, 2008
  2. ^ PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  3. ^ "Minister confirms appointment", Vanuatu Daily Post, May 22, 2009
  4. ^ a b "Message from Minister for Foreign Affairs", ni-Vanuatu embassy in China
  5. ^ "Chinese Club donate Vt1.4m supplies to landslide victims", Vanuatu Daily Post], June 23, 2009
  6. ^ "The Pacific Proxy: China vs Taiwan", Graeme Dobell, ABC Radio Australia, February 7, 2007
  7. ^ Young, Audrey (October 19, 2007). "Chequebooks brought out at Pacific forum". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved November 2, 2011. 
  8. ^ "China announces initiatives to expand ties with PIF member countries", PRC embassy in Papua New Guinea, November 24, 2003
  9. ^ "China offers aid package to Pacific Islands", China Daily, April 5, 2006
  10. ^ "Chinese Premier Wen to visit the Pacific Islands", Taipei Times, April 3, 2006
  11. ^ "Vanuatu looks to China for markets", Vanuatu Daily, April 11, 2006
  12. ^ "Vanuatu-China Relations", ni-Vanuatu embassy in China
  13. ^ a b "Briefing of Relations between China and Vanuatu", PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 25, 2008
  14. ^ a b "Chinese influence corrupting government: opposition leader", Vanuatu Daily, March 12, 2006
  15. ^ "Vanuatu scraps deal with Taiwan", BBC, December 16, 2004