Senior Chinese Communist Party Official in Vanuatu for Meetings

Reuters file photo
Liu Jianchao, director general of the Department of International Cooperation of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the ruling Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog, attends a news conference in Beijing, China, January 15, 2016.

SYDNEY, May 27 (Reuters) – A top Chinese Communist Party official, Liu Jianchao, met Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Charlot Salwai on Monday on a visit to the Pacific Island nation that is being courted by Beijing and the United States.

Liu, 60, leads the Communist Party’s body in charge of managing ties with foreign political parties. He has been widely expected to become China’s next foreign minister.

China is Vanuatu’s top external creditor after a decade of infrastructure projects spanning the construction of a parliament house as well as roads and airports.

Australia is a major aid donor and the United States is seeking to open an embassy in the strategically located and resource-rich island chainnortheast of Australia.

Liu met with Salwai on Monday morning after arriving in Vanuatu on Sunday, statements and photographs posted to social media by the Vanuatu prime minister’s office showed.

Li also met with Vanuatu’s President Nikenike Vurobaravu, a readout from China’s official Xinhua said.

Both countries agreed to work together to further develop relations, closely engage in inter-party exchanges, deepen exchanges and mutual understanding of “experience in governance”, and strengthen cooperation such as under the Belt and Road initiative.

It added that both would push for the building of a closer “community of shared destiny” between China and the Pacific island countries.