By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/13 17:38:39
China will hold a summit with South Pacific nations in Papua New Guinea (PNG) ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November, Papua New Guinea Ambassador Christopher S. Mero told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.
China's summit with island nations in the Pacific would be held under a cooperative mechanism established before, Mero said. He added that similar summits have been held, in response to Australian media reports on the meeting, which shows China is increasing its presence in the region.
APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. The 2018 summit will be the first to be hosted by PNG, and will be attended by 21 leaders.
China's Foreign Ministry said President Xi Jinping will attend the 2018 APEC summit.
Mero said that China's influence is increasing globally and its ties with countries in many regions, including the South Pacific, have developed rapidly in recent years.
"The US is our traditional ally… but the current president is showing isolationism," Mero said, adding that President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement disappointed many South Pacific nations.
Countries in the South Pacific have been influenced by rising sea levels, and people there are among the first to be affected by climate change, Mero said. "China has become the voice of climate change issues… that is why we come to China."
Mero also noted that PNG is looking forward to signing more cooperation programs with China during Xi's visit. The two sides are working on signing a free trade agreement.
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill visited China in June. He told PNG media that "A PNG-China Free Trade Agreement has the potential to stimulate trade, business and employment if done right," the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Newspaper headline: China, S.Pacific nations to meet