NZ gets high praise from Clinton at forum
Sun, 02 Sep 2012 7:15a.m.
New Zealand has received high praise at the Pacific Islands Forum for its work with China to assist smaller island nations, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying her country will follow NZ's lead.
After the forum, Ms Clinton on Friday (local time) held talks with Prime Minister John Key in Rarotonga.
The two leaders discussed Western concerns over China's growing influence in the region, including its provision of loans and other aid to Pacific states, but Ms Clinton played down competition between China and her country to be the better superpower friend.
"We think it is important for the Pacific Island nations to have good relationships with as many partners as possible and that includes China, as well as the United States," she told media at a joint press conference with Mr Key.
"We believe that there is more China can do with us, with New Zealand, with Australia, with others, to further sustainable development, improve the health of the people, deal with climate change and the environment."
Ms Clinton praised an initiative, announced on Thursday night by China and New Zealand, on water conservation, and she said New Zealand was setting a good example of the multilateral cooperation that could take place with China on aid and development issues.
Following in that vein, the US is beginning to discuss more cooperation with China on disaster prevention and response.
"It is something we are modelling on New Zealand," Ms Clinton said.
"New Zealand has been working on water issues with China. We want to learn the lessons about what worked."
However, Ms Clinton emphasised that it is important China acts in a "fair and transparent way".
Mr Key says that comment references China's aid to African nations, which include conditions, such as loan repayments or sharing of resources - and is a "cautionary note" to Pacific states about accepting loans.
The prime minister said the water announcement with China "makes sense", following concerns about where Beijing was directing its aid - such as to build new stadiums - and how much benefit Pacific residents would receive from that.
Mr Key said that while he was sure Ms Clinton's comments on following New Zealand's lead were aimed to flatter, the two countries' relationship was going from strength to strength following the signing of the Wellington Declaration when she visited New Zealand in 2010.
The pair will meet again at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Russia in a week's time.
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2/09/2012 1:57:05 p.m.
Good to see NZ being proactive but would think there would be more precaution around China as they persecute their own people.
2/09/2012 11:07:32 a.m.
So, master praises, dog wags its tail.
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