23 Jan 2006

China's leader to visit Fiji next month to launch economic conference

8:03 pm on 23 January 2006

The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is to visit Fiji next month to open a conference of economic and trade ministers of China and Pacific island countries.

The Fiji Times reports on its website that China's Vice Commerce Minister, Ma Xiuhong, announced the visit in Suva today.

He is in Fiji finalising details of the forum.

It will be Wen's first visit to Fiji, and the forum is the first of its kind in Fiji to be attended by a Chinese head of state.

The paper reports it is understood the conference in Nadi will launch a Chinese proposal for regular ministerial level meetings to discuss trade and economic development for Fiji and other Pacific island countries.

It is also likely to spark some controversy because six of the 16 members of the Pacific Islands Forum recognize Taiwan.