MSG Secretariat looks to China

Director General Leonard Louma

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat is considering engaging China for cooperation on security, its secretariat says.

Following a meeting between the Chinese Special Envoy to the Pacific, Qian Bo and the Director General, Leonard Louma, the MSG is also considering signing up China as its first official ‘development partner’.

“I had a very constructive discussion on a broad range of issues that pertain to the specific interests of my MSG Membership, and the needs of the MSG Secretariat, and was happy with the positive sentiments conveyed by the Special Envoy on the proposed areas of cooperation,” Louma said after the meeting.

“The Secretariat will now be crafting an Agreement that would be signed later this year between the Chinese Government and the Secretariat with the purpose of making the Chinese Government the first officially designated ‘Development Partner’ of the MSG Secretariat”.

Issues discussed included enhanced Trade and Economic Development cooperation with the possibility of mounting trade expositions in China and in MSG countries; renovation and rehabilitation of the MSG Secretariat Building; MSG countries easy visa access to China; designation of MSG countries as destination for Chinese tourists, Education/Scholarships; Health and Sports cooperation; and more cultural exchanges to foster better people-to-people understanding and relationship.

Louma further noted, “My members have affirmed in very strong terms that no one will choose their friends or enemies for them. They have made it clear that they do not see any reason why their countries cannot receive security assistance, be it in training or equipment, from different development partners.”

The MSG has the MSG Regional Security Strategy (RSS) and the RSS Working Group will be meeting in Fiji next month to finalise the text of the Strategy. 

“Consistent with our Members approach, the Secretariat is not averse to cooperation with China in implementing certain aspects of the Strategy and will be carefully looking at the Strategy to determine areas where cooperation might be possible,” DG Louma said.