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Brown attending Beijing forum

Wednesday April 24, 2019 Written by Published in Politics
Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown. Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown.

Deputy prime minister Mark Brown is in China attending the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held this week in Beijing.

 

Brown, who is also the country’s finance minister, will be part of an estimated 5000 foreign officials and business delegates attending the two-day meeting, starting today.

The meeting will also welcome the heads of 37 states which include Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, the first G7 country to endorse the Chinese foreign policy.

The Cook Islands signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative (BRI) in November last year.

Under the BRI MOU, the two governments agreed to promote between themselves policy coordination, “facilities connectivity”, trade, financial co-operation and “people-to-people” relations.

Prime minister Henry Puna then said the BRI MOU provided the two countries elevated platform upon which they could focus future bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

“By way of example, the Cook Islands government, led by Cook Islands Tourism has already advanced marketing strategies in recent years for the China tourism market, targeting the growing affluent market in China for travel to complement the low and shoulder season in the Cook Islands.  By per visitor expenditure, Chinese tourists are the second highest in the Cook Islands,” Puna said in a statement in November last year.

“The designation by China through the BRI of 2019 as the Year of Pacific Tourism elevates the Cook Islands and Pacific profile in China which in turn should deliver higher yields from the China tourism market.

“China’s increased engagement with the Cook Islands and the Pacific over the last 20 years has drawn interest and engagement in the region by other powers, both traditional and new. This has availed the Cook Islands opportunities in trade, diplomacy, development co-operation and investment which we welcome.”

According to Chinese state-owned press agency Xinhua, the Belt and Road Initiative had delivered “tangible benefits to all participating countries and regions, taking shape as a new solution to imbalanced global development and a road toward a brighter future for humanity”, six years after its establishment.

It said a report published on Monday elaborated on the progress, contributions and prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Other foreign media, however, reported China, at this meeting, will be defending its Belt and Road Initiative against charges that it creates debt traps.

After the Beijing meeting, Brown will head to Fiji for the Asian Development Bank meeting next week followed by the Forum for Economic Ministers Meeting. He is expected to return on May 10.

Meanwhile PM Puna is on Manihiki to attend the opening of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church on the island this week.