RAROTONGA, Cook Islands, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai firmly rejected suggestions Thursday that China's assistance to developing Pacific countries was aimed at furthering China's own interests.
In a press conference with mainly foreign journalists, Cui refuted suggestions that China was out to extend its influence or to "compete" with the United States in the Pacific.
"We are here in this region not to seek any particular influence, still less dominance. We are here to work with the island countries to achieve sustainable development because both China and the Pacific island countries belong to the ranks of developing countries," said Cui.
"China's assistance to other developing countries is in the framework of south-south cooperation so our origin, our policy approach and our practice are very different from those of the traditional donor countries," he said.
China's long tradition of helping other developing countries stretched back to the 1950s and 1960s when China itself was much poorer than now.
"When we were declining any foreign assistance at the time, we had already started to help other developing countries and we believe developing countries have to help each other in order to achieve common development," said Cui.
"This has been our approach, this has been our thinking, all along and I don't think there will be significant change in that regard," he added.
China was open to closer communication and coordination with other countries, including the traditional developed donor countries, and was "ready to exchange views, to compare respective practice and where possible and feasible, we're also open to work with them for the benefit of the recipient countries particularly the island countries here in this region."
Speaking on the same evening that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the Cook Islands for the post-forum partners dialogue after the annual Pacific Islands Forum meeting, Cui pointed out that China had been coming to the dialogue for 23 years.
"We are here to be a good partner with the island countries; we are not here to compete with anybody," he said.
He pointed to the joint project between China, New Zealand and the Cook Islands to develop a water supply system in Rarotonga, announced earlier Thursday, as a good example China's willingness to cooperate on assistance that met the priorities of the island nations themselves.