China: Island nations important members in Asia-Pacific family
Updated 21:11, 18-Nov-2018
By Nayan Seth and Wu Yuhan
Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet leaders from eight Pacific island countries on the sidelines of the APEC meetings in Papua New Guinea. So, what exactly is China's policy towards Pacific island nations, and does nearby Australia need to worry? 
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that "China is happy to see South Pacific island states having more friends around the world. We are also happy to see the development of friendly ties and win-win cooperation between these South Pacific island countries, Australia, and China." 
It's China's clear message to Australia.
Last week, standing alongside Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for cooperation. 
And Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne responded positively, "We share deep interest in the prosperity of this region."
The Chinese government says its goal is the overall development of impoverished but promising Pacific island countries under the Belt and Road Initiative. 
For China, they're part of a larger Asia-Pacific family. 
As Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang stressed earlier this week, “These are important partners in the Asia-Pacific family. We are a developing nation and we look at them as developing partners."
In November 2014, during President Xi's visit to Fiji, China and the eight countries agreed to establish a strategic partnership mechanism.
Since then, China has actively participated in their development journey. 
In 2017, the total trade volume crossed 7 billion US dollars and Chinese companies' investments are now above 3 billion. 
Over 100,000 Chinese tourists visit the Pacific island nations annually, and there are over 1,000 students from the eight countries who are currently studying in China. Moreover, China says it doesn't believe in the "go-solo" approach. 
The country has welcomed Australia's recent announcement of a fund of over 2 billion dollars for development of the Pacific islands.
Though many in Australia remain skeptical, Pacific nations have whole-heartedly welcomed both China and Australia.
So, the argument of choosing one country's project over another doesn't hold much water.
There's enough room and potential for everyone to join in and help develop the island nations.