Xi's South Pacific Tour Opens New Era for Regional Development

Chinese President Xi Jinping's South Pacific tour enhanced mutual trust and cooperation between China and related Pacific countries and ushered in a new era for regional development, said scholars and officials as well as press reports.

Xi attended the ninth Group of 20 Summit in Brisbane of Australia and visited Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

During the trip, China elevated relations with Australia and New Zealand to comprehensive strategic partnerships. The fruitful trip also promoted the establishment of a strategic partnership between China and eight South Pacific countries, featuring mutual respect and common development.

Greg Sheridan, an editor at The Australian newspaper, called President Xi's visit a "masterful performance," saying the Chinese president achieved almost everything he wanted.

"The free trade agreement with China has the potential to be transformative for Australia. It locks the two nations much more closely together," Sheridan said in an article published on Saturday.

Xi's visit is a significant success, said Hugh White, Australian strategist and professor at the Australian National University, adding that it is very striking how warmly the trade agreement was received by not just the Australian government but by its public.

"But I also think it is even more striking how warmly President Xi's remarks and observations about China's future role in Asia and Australia's future relations with China were received," he added.

The Australian Financial Review newspaper issued a commentary saying that "when histories of the Australia-China relationship are written, Nov. 17, 2014, will come to be regarded as a watershed moment for reasons that go well beyond the signing of a trade agreement."

Xi's announcement of a comprehensive strategic partnership represented an elevation in the relationship and should be regarded as structurally significant, the commentary said.

Brendan Forde, a researcher at the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, said in an article published in The Canberra Times on Saturday that President Xi "used language broadly accessible and understandable."

He noted that Xi emphasized China's commitment to peace and acknowledged that there are different views on the rise of China, including concerns about China's intentions.

Pat English, chief executive of the New Zealand China Council, said the relationship between New Zealand and China will deepen with the new comprehensive strategic partnership announced during Xi's state visit.

Xi's state visit is a massive marketing opportunity for New Zealand, with a large contingent of reporters from the world's second-biggest economy set to arrive, he said.

Prior to his visit to New Zealand, Xi called for joint efforts with the country to work for "an even better future" of bilateral relations in a signed article published on the New Zealand Herald.

The newspaper then issued a commentary on Thursday, saying that the visit of the Chinese president will bring huge benefit to New Zealand as more and more Chinese people will better learn about the South Pacific nation.

During his visit to Fiji, Xi also held separate meetings with leaders of some Pacific island countries that have diplomatic ties with China, sending clear signals of enhancing bilateral friendly cooperation.

"As the second-biggest economy in the world, China is increasingly important for the entire region and especially our own economies," Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said in a statement, adding that Xi's visit will lift bilateral ties to a new level.

Pita Wise, permanent secretary of Fiji's Ministry of Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics told Xinhua that his country needs China very much, adding: "I think if we strengthen the partnership with China, it will be an advantage to Fiji in terms of investment, growth and prosperity, and that is very important."

Meanwhile, Sandra Tarte, associate professor and director of politics and international affairs program of the University of the South Pacific, said that Xi's visit to Fiji and meetings with South Pacific island countries' leaders is obviously a significant milestone in the relationship.

Source: Xinhua