China

Tonga wants to grow China exports under Belt and Road

An agreement was signed at the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea, where China also agreed to defer Tonga's loan repayments for five years.

China also signed off on a $US14 million aid grant for a yet to be finalised project.

Lopeti Senituli, a political adviser to Tongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, says Tonga will benefit from Belt and Road.

"We are already exporting squash, we are also exporting our sea cucumber, but we are also hoping to expand that to other agricultural and marine resources to China," said Lopeti Senituli.

Tonga and Vanuatu join China's Belt and Road

The announcements came on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea last week.

Tonga's memorandum of understanding on Belt and Road was followed by a reprieve of the country's debt payments owed to China.

Lopeti Senituli, a political adviser to Tongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, told Reuters the loan payments had been deferred for five years.

Meanwhile, the Vanuatu Daily Post reports Vanuatu signed seven different MoUs with China earlier this month, including a Belt and Road agreement.

ANG defers Shanghai flights

In a statement, the airline said: “Air Niugini is committed to ensuring the highest quality, on time service to all passengers and will continuously review its business to improve efficiencies.

“Our partners and the airline have invested heavily in setting up operations to achieve our goal of opening the Chinese market to Papua New Guinea. It is our desire to complete this venture at the earliest possible opportunity. 

West accused of trying to sow discord over Chinese aid

Yu Lei of the Beijing Foreign Studies University told the Global Times South Pacific nations were "bewitched" by Western countries including Australia and the US, who sought to gain political leverage in the region.

Western countries were trying to sow discord between China and South Pacific nations by inciting them to come up with the idea of writing off loans, the academic said.

Tonga's prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva has suggested Pacific countries push for China to forgive their debts, although he has since backtracked on the idea.

NZ advises Pacific countries to ask China for debt forgiveness

The Samoa Observer reports that Winston Peters made the suggestion during an exclusive interview at the recent Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting in Samoa.

Mr Peters said the level of debts that Pacific Island nations owed to the Chinese government should be addressed at the leadership level.

Last week, Tonga Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva cautioned Pacific Island nations to "slow down" asking China for loans.

He referred to the experiences of his own country, which owes the Chinese government $US160 million.

Tonga's PM wants regional push for China to forgive debts

'Akilisi Pohiva says Tonga is two years overdue on Chinese loan payments, but will this year pay $US14 million towards its outstanding $US160 million debt.

He told the Samoa Observer that if Pacific Islands don't pay their debts to China's government, it will seize their assets as collateral.

He says the only option for Tonga and other indebted nations is to ask China to forgive the debts.

Mr Pohiva has repeatedly asked China's government to forgive Tonga's debt, which is a substantial portion of the kingdom's GDP, or convert the loans to grants.

"Peace Ark" hospital ship arrives in Tonga for visit and medical services

The "Peace Ark" hospital ship is the third Chinese naval ship to visit Tonga after the previous visits by the training ship "Zhenghe" and the guided missile frigate "Mianyang" of the PLAN.

"The purpose of this tour to Tonga, with the mission of providing medical services, is to carry forward the international humanitarian spirit, strengthen exchanges between the two militaries, and promote the view of harmony", Rear Admiral Shen Hao, commanding officer of the "Harmonious Mission - 2014", said at the welcoming ceremony.

China takes up Australia's former radio space in Pacific

In response to budget cuts, the ABC last year ceased shortwave broadcasting in the Asia-Pacific region ahead of a switch to FM transmission.

Australia-based technology observer Peter Marks told Radio ABC's Tech Headprogramme that since that withdrawal, the space was swiftly being filled.

"Since Radio Australia has dropped off shortwave, many of the exact frequencies we used to use have been now taken over by Chinese stations targetting the Asia Pacific region," he explained.

China says Australia's Pacific debt claim 'ridiculous'

The Sydney Morning Herald reported his comments following remarks by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that the Australian government was concerned some Chinese financing arrangements in the Pacific would undermine the islands' sovereignty.

She said Australia would aim to offer alternatives to Chinese infrastructure development.

Ambassador Cheng Jingye said the idea China wanted to create debt-traps for the Pacific nations was "ridiculous".

China's relationships with Pacific nations were on an equal footing which was mutually beneficial, he said.

Peppa Pig blocked from China's Douyin video platform

Social media users in the country noticed video clips of the cartoon were being removed on Saturday, and on Monday, state newspaper Global Times said that the #PeppaPig hashtag had been removed from the Douyin video website, while searches for "Peppa Pig" on the site produced no results.

Many papers also note that the platform appears to have added "Peppa Pig" to its list of blacklisted content.

The Peppa Pig cartoon is hugely popular in China, but despite being targeted at a pre-school audience, it has found mass appeal with Chinese adults in recent months.