2 May 2007

Pacific countries called on to help Chinese communities integrate

1:25 pm on 2 May 2007

The director of Tonga's Youth Congress says Pacific governments need to make more of an effort to help ethnic Chinese people integrate into communities.

Elaine Sihoatani Howard says it was sad that ethnic Chinese businesses were targeted in last year's riots in Tonga and Solomon Islands.

She says a dialogue needs to get going between racial groups.

"We need to start building those bridges, or else we're in trouble. We already saw what happened. I think what needs to happen in the government's view is that maybe they can see that, even though they make agreements with China and with high-level Chinese people, we really need to go to the grass-roots level, and do exchanges, cultural exchanges, maybe homestay exchanges... with people from other cultures who are right next door."

Ms Howard says officials should recognise that people have multi-layered identities, and that this recognition will engender mutual respect.