Premier Li Keqiang converses with Vanuatu's Prime Minister Charlot Salwai as they witness the signing of several bilateral cooperation agreements on Monday in Beijing. (WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY)
Premier calls for alignment of BRI with Pacific island nation's strategies
Premier Li Keqiang urged better alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and the development strategies of Vanuatu as well as greater mutual political trust between the two countries during a meeting with Prime Minister Charlot Salwai on Monday.
Li and Salwai also witnessed the signing of several bilateral cooperative agreements, including a cooperative plan on joint building of the BRI and feasibility research into building a small port and road on Pentecost Island, an island of the South Pacific nation.
China and Vanuatu should deepen cooperation in areas including infrastructure construction, business, trade, fishing and tourism, Li said in the meeting with his Vanuatu counterpart at the Great Hall of the People.
China will encourage its businesses to invest in Vanuatu, and will expand imports from the Pacific island country, he said.
Vanuatu signed a memorandum of understanding with China for the joint building of the BRI in November, alongside the seven other Pacific nations that have established diplomatic relations with China.
Li said the two nations have always respected each other, treated each other as equals and supported each other on issues related to core interests and major concerns over the 37 years of their diplomatic relations.
China has always maintained that all countries, big or small, are equal and that cooperation leads to win-win outcomes, he said.
Beijing stands ready to expand exchanges and cooperation in various areas and bring the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level, he added.
Li also called for enhanced people-to-people exchanges between the two countries to enable better understanding between the two peoples.
China will provide assistance to Vanuatu as its capacity allows, and it will support the Pacific island nation to play an important role in the South Pacific region, the premier said.
Li also appealed to both sides to enhance communication and coordination over international and regional affairs, and expressed China's support for Vanuatu's hosting of the Pacific Islands Forum next year.
Salwai, who is visiting China for the first time since taking office in 2016, said he appreciates the important role China plays in global affairs and economic governance.
Relations between the two countries are based on mutual trust and win-win outcomes, he said. He also expressed his country's firm adherence to the one-China policy and its support for China's endeavor to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Vanuatu is willing to deepen official and people-to-people exchanges with China, and move forward with cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, infrastructure and telecommunications to bring bilateral relations and relations between China and Pacific island countries to a new level, he said.