On May 3rd, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of greetings to Jose Ramos-Horta on his election as President of Timor-Leste. Ramos-Horta is due to assume office on May 20th. He previously served as President, 2008-2012, and Prime Minister, 2006-2007.
Relations between China and Timor-Leste have a long history and illustrate China’s principle of treating countries large and small as equals as well as its support for the national liberation struggles of the oppressed nations.
Having been a Portuguese colony for four centuries, Timor-Leste proclaimed its independence as the Democratic Republic of East Timor on November 28th 1975, with a young Ramos-Horta as its Foreign Minister. China was one of the few countries to recognise the new state. After Indonesia invaded and occupied the new republic on December 7th 1975, China continued to support the Timorese people’s right to self-determination. As then Chinese Ambassador Fu Yuancong wrote in 2011: “The well-established relationship between China and Timor-Leste has a long history. China sided with the Timorese people with sympathy and support during their struggle for national independence. China is proud to be the first country establishing diplomatic ties with Timor-Leste after its founding.”
A number of articles in the international media have expressed the view that Ramos-Horta’s return to the presidency will further strengthen his country’s already friendly relations with China. For example, on April 22nd, the leading French daily Le Monde wrote: “The elected president of this island nation twice the size of Corsica, which shares its territory with the other half of the island belonging to Indonesia (West Timor), does not hide his pro-Beijing sympathies. He wants to see China continue its investments in Timor-Leste, the official name of the country. This includes the financing of an oil and gas mega-project off the southern coast, estimated to cost 18 billion U.S. dollars (17 billion euros). ‘China is not a threat, but an opportunity,’ Ramos-Horta insisted in September 2019, in an interview with Le Monde. ‘To think that we could end up the victims of the Chinese ‘debt trap’ is absurd!’ he added.”
The following report of President Xi’s message was originally carried by China Daily.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday sent a congratulatory message to Jose Ramos-Horta on his election as Timor-Leste’s president.
In his message, Xi pointed out that over the past 20 years since China and Timor-Leste established diplomatic ties, the two countries have been continuously deepening their practical cooperation, greatly developed bilateral relations, and brought tangible benefits to their people, which is a vivid reflection of countries, big and small, treating each other as equals and engaging in win-win cooperation.
Xi said he attaches great importance to the development of China-Timor-Leste relations, and stands ready to work with President Ramos-Horta to bring the comprehensive cooperative partnership of good-neighborliness, friendship, mutual trust and mutual benefit between the two countries to a new level.
This article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez explores the hysterical and hypocritical reaction by the US and Australia to the recently-announced security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands. Carlos observes that the Western imperialist powers are attempting to construct – via AUKUS and other means – a Monroe Doctrine in the Pacific, imposing US hegemony over the region as part of their long-term strategy of China containment. The article also deals with the contention that China itself is acting in an imperialist manner in the Pacific.
The Anglo ruling classes have gone into a state of frenzy over a recently-signed security agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Solomon Islands. Various people who had barely heard of the Solomon Islands just a few weeks ago are now expressing grave concern that this small sovereign nation could be used as a pawn by an aggressive and expansionist China in its bid for world domination.
The deal itself appears to be entirely ordinary, allowing for China to “make ship visits to, carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in the Solomon Islands,” in addition to providing the Solomon Islands police with training and – on invitation – support. Indeed, the Solomon Islands already has similar security cooperation arrangements with Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Fiji; as such, the deal with China simply represents a desire to “seek greater security partnership with other partners and neighbours.”
Responding to criticism of the deal by Australian and US politicians, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare assured that it was signed “with our eyes wide open, guided by our national interests”, and that it has been developed not as a means of power projection but of addressing the island nation’s security needs.
Nonetheless, Western politicians and media have reacted with an anxiety bordering on the hysterical. Indeed the Australian government made repeated attempts to prevent the deal being signed in the first place, and its failure has prompted bitter recrimination. Allan Gyngell from the Australian Institute of International Affairs commented to BBC News that “the objective had to be to stop something like this happening. You can’t read it any other way – this is a failure of Australian diplomacy.” Meanwhile, opposition leader Anthony Albanese described Australia’s failure to prevent the agreement going through as “a massive foreign policy failure” and “a Pacific stuff-up”. The Australian Labor Party is now promising that it will “restore Australia’s place as the partner of choice in the Pacific” if it is successful in the coming federal elections.
Co-Editor of Friends of Socialist China Danny Haiphong analyzed the hypocrisy of the West’s hysterical opposition toward the recent security pact reached between the Solomon Islands and China on his weekly podcast, Cold War Brew. Haiphong observes that the US and its allies, particularly Australia, have no issue with Ukraine possibly joining NATO but have threatened regime change on the Solomon Islands for working bilaterally with China to meet its security needs. He goes on to explain the root causes of this contradiction.
The Cold War Brew podcast can be listened to live each Sunday at 11:30 AM US Eastern on the Callin app, which can be downloaded on Android and Apple devices as well as on Spotify after the episode publishes.
Responding to a question from a Bloomberg journalist, Wang Wenbin comprehensively rejected accusations made by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that China was planning to build a military base on the Solomon Islands. Wang Wenbin further highlighted the hypocritical nature of US and Australian commentary and behavior, noting that the two are attempting to construct a new Monroe Doctrine in the Pacific.
The security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands is based on equality and mutual benefits. It is within the sovereignty of our two countries and consistent with the international law and international customary practice. The cooperation is open, transparent, legitimate, lawful and irreproachable. The speculation that China will build a military base in Solomon Islands is pure disinformation fabricated by a handful of people who harbor ulterior motives.
I have noted that the US and Australian accuse the framework agreement on security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands of not being transparent. However, it is the AUKUS security partnership that is neither open nor transparent. When will the US and Australia invite South Pacific island countries and other regional countries to review AUKUS cooperation? The US claims that China’s military presence will cause grave concerns. If we follow this logic, the nearly 800 military bases in 80 countries and regions across the world run by the US have long been of major concern for the world. When will the US shut down those bases?
Island countries in the South Pacific are independent and sovereign states, not a backyard of the US or Australia. Their attempt to revive the Monroe Doctrine in the South Pacific region will get no support and lead to nowhere.
The eruption of an underwater volcano off the South Pacific island nation of Tonga has triggered a humanitarian crisis, cutting the country off from the outside world and damaging vital connectivity and infrastructure. This once again demonstrates the vulnerability of small island states in particular, faced with the challenges of overcoming centuries of colonial rule, developing their national economies and facing the existential threat of climate change. This useful article, which we reproduce from Global Times, notes that China has pledged all possible support and assistance to Tonga, both now and in the future. China, it further notes, is prepared to cooperate with all other countries in this endeavour and does not wish to see the South Pacific as an arena for any new Cold War. The island nations, it notes, “are not the backyard of the US and its allies”.
The massive eruption of an underwater volcano off Tonga, which triggered tsunami waves to hit the Pacific island nation and other locations in the Pacific, has become a focus of global headlines.
Tonga is in need of emergency aid, and China said it is willing to help. On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China is ready to provide every possible support and assistance to Tonga.
We hope those who see Tonga as a battlefield with China, such as the US and its allies, could work together with China to provide help to the Pacific island nation.
While the danger of the Tongan volcano erupting again remaining largely unknown, videos posted on social media and various news reports so far suggest that the eruption has caused serious damages to the island nation. For instance, Tonga’s submarine cable connectivity to the outside world has been offline since Saturday due to the earthquake caused by the volcanic eruption.