China’s Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng, has moved to assuage fears over Samoa’s debt to China, assuring a number of projects under their aid programme are funded by grants.
In fact, according to the Ambassador, the Chinese aid to Samoa for the past two and a half years has been in the form of grants.
China’s Ambassador was responding to a question posed by the Sunday Samoan during a press conference at the Chinese Embassy.
Asked about the conditions of the loans the Chinese government gives to Samoa, Mr. Xuefeng said: “The Prime Minister of Samoa has already answered the same question to a journalist.”
He was referring to a detailed interview given by Tuilaepa last week, where he downplayed fears about China’s assistance and defended their work in the Pacific.
Pressed on how much China has given to Samoa in terms of grants and loans, Mr. Xuefeng said: “I don’t have any specific statistics at hand to give a very good comment.
“The Prime Minister answered that he believes Samoa has the capability to repay the loans and has ample capacity to pay on an annual basis.
“Now, as far as I know, all Chinese projects offered at this time are in the form of grants. In the past two and a half years that I have served here, it has all been grants.”
He explained that the beginning of his term in office as China’s Ambassador to Samoa was also the start of the Bilateral Grant Scheme between China and Samoa.
“I don’t have the exact number. We just started the bilateral grant scheme in the beginning of my term here,” he said.
He said the maintenance of the Aquatic Centre is being financed by the Chinese Government.
Ambassador Xuefeng says the last phase of the Faleolo airport project is nearing completion and it is due to open by March or April this year.
“In the past decade, the Chinese government helped Samoa build the office buildings, sports facilities, hospitals, schools. These developments benefit the local Samoan people and I think the Samoan people welcome the China aid."
“The Prime Minister has expressed great support for China aid, and the remark by the P.M. is highly appreciated by the Chinese government and its people."
“We can feel the solid relationship between our two countries and we can feel the deep friendship between our two countries."
“The China aid in Samoa and also some Pacific Island countries is warmly welcomed by the Government and by the people and we cooperate very well and we together can achieve success.”
Ambassador Xuefeng also reassured China’s presence in the region.
“We are confident that in the future, we will continuously cooperate with our friends in the South Pacific countries to develop the China aid program, especially in the field of infrastructure."
“The China aid is part of our foreign policy. For us in China we offer a helping hand to other developing countries.”
He also mentioned that the number of grant project for 2018 is yet to be confirmed.
“Each year, the Chinese Government signs an agreement with the Government of Samoa; we provide the support for Samoa’s development, including the grant. For 2018, now it is not the time to sign it, I cannot give you the number of the grant, it’s still the beginning of the year.”