China has released five million US dollars to the Cook Islands government as part of a loan to build a new sports complex and the upgrade of venues around Rarotonga for next year's South Pacific Mini Games.
The money, which is part of a 10 million US dollar concessional loan, will be used to hire Cook Islands contractors in a departure from China's policy to send its own workers.
China has agreed that the earth removal and excavation work, repairs and upgrades of existing sports facilities and amenities and the construction of an education complex will be carried out by locals.
The Cook Islands Finance Minister, Sir Terepai Maoate, who signed the commercial contract on behalf of the Cook Islands government, says construction work can now begin.
However, Sir Terepai says the overall loan agreement is yet to be signed.