Prime Minister James Marape met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at the Great Hall of the People following a spectacular Guard of Honour by the People’s Liberation Army.
PM Marape is in Beijing from 16th to 19th October 2023 on an official visit that includes his participation at the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
Premier Li in his welcome remarks offered warm words of welcome to Prime Minister Marape and his delegation and acknowledged the existing bilateral relations between the two countries and emphasized that these relations continue to experience robust growth with cooperation at all levels and sectors which were at the forefront and for our mutual benefit.
Premier Li also emphasized the need for high-quality Belt and Road Cooperation to support PNG’s modernization and socio-economic development agenda.
He also alluded to Prime Minister Marape’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bangkok on the margins of the APEC Leaders meeting last November whereby they discussed issues of mutual concern particularly, the commencement of the feasibility study for the proposed Free Trade Agreement between PNG and China. Once completed, this would pave the way for increased trade with China and PNG.
Prime Minister Marape in response acknowledged the exceptional welcome accorded to him and his delegation upon arrival in Beijing from Hong Kong where he delivered the keynote address at the Inaugural PNG-Asia Investment Conference and met with major Chinese and Asian investors.
This welcome reception was truly reflective of the value placed on the PNG-China bilateral relations and the respect for each others sovereignty.
In acknowledging the existing relations, Prime Minister Marape said that it was exactly 47 years and 4 days ago on the 12th of October 1976 that formal diplomatic ties were established between the two countries.
Since that time onwards, PNG has continued to adhere strictly to the “One China Policy” in all its dealings with mainland China.
“China is the global South-South Leader, and I commend your government for uplifting 800 million people out of poverty.
“This is a great development feat that PNG wants to benefit from China, especially through transfer of skills, know-how, and technology to build our economy,” said Prime Minister Marape.
Our people to people connections with China predates 100 years before 1975 and the Chinese people’s contribution to PNG is immense and is reflective in terms of business, trade and investment over the years by those Chinese people that settled in PNG in the late 1800s.
In further expanding PNG-China relations Prime Minister Marape informed that in 2018 when President Xi Jinping visited PNG, he signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Mutual Respect and Common Development and this had increased people to people relations through visits by the Chinese Foreign and Education Ministers and the Governor of China’s Guangdong Province.
This symbolizes government to government relations at a very higher level as well as for business, trade, and investment, said Prime Minister Marape.
Furthermore, the level of development assistance to PNG from China is now well over K2 billion over the last 48 years, with scope for further increase through Chinese development assistance under the Belt and Road Initiative.
I want to thank China for the increase in trade over the last 10 years, which has grown into a trade surplus that is in favour of PNG. China is ranked the top two in terms of exports and imports with China.
This has been indicative of China’s growing demand for PNG produce and I offer land and incentives for Chinese investors to consider establishing downstream processing facilities in forestry, fisheries and coffee initially and for the finished products to be exported to the lucrative Chinese market and globally. I also requested for the Chinese government to purchase more LNG from PNG.
In other related bilateral matters, Prime Minister Marape informed of PNG’s membership to the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB), which is an added advantage for PNG and will serve as an alternative source of concessional loan financing in future for infrastructure projects in PNG.
Additionally, the establishment of the Bank of China in PNG and the Common Currency Settlement Arrangement between commercial banks for Reminbi and Kina currencies required Bank of PNG licensing and approval. This would offer alternative retail banking services and greatly ease and facilitate trade transactions.
To boost business trade and tourism, Prime Minister Marape assured Premier Li of his directives to facilitate reciprocal visa waiver arrangements for ordinary passport holders and the request by China to join the PNG APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) process.
In terms of increasing Chinese Government cooperation, Prime Minister Marape and Premier Li witnessed the formalization of various MoU’s on economic and trade, energy, climate change, higher and technical vocational education and exchange of letters on solar power and a proposed framework on Connect PNG and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Phytosanitary protocols for export of raw coffee and cocoa beans for export to China were not formalised on this occasion and will be attended to immediately.
To ensure practical implementation of these bilateral arrangements, we agreed for our relevant sectoral ministers and officials to immediately work on implementation and report on the outcomes, said Prime Minister Marape.
In closing, Prime Minister Marape told Premier Li that the security and wellbeing of our future bilateral relations is secured in business to business and people to people relations.