He made the point yesterday when the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Wu Xi presented her credentials at a formal ceremony at Government House.
Welcoming the ambassador, Marsters said the Cook Islands and the Pacific region as a whole, had much to offer: the world’s largest ocean, the world’s biggest tuna stocks, multi-billion dollar reserves of oil and gas and seabed minerals, tourism and a unique and rich culture.
“With this in mind, the Cook Islands would welcome discussions with China on how we could potentially explore developing our own trading relationship,” Marsters said.
As a small island developing state burdened with limitations such as geographical isolation and resource constraints, connectivity was an important aspect for the Cook Islands to embrace, as it enabled Cook Islanders remain connected and engaged with the international community, he said.
“Although the Cook Islands and China may be at opposite ends of the globe, we are connected through our traditional lineage which actually dates back centuries ago when Chinese settlers and traders arrived and made their homes and raised their families in our little paradise.
“There are several families who still carry their Chinese family names with great honour. Therefore, formalising diplomatic relations in 1997, 21 years ago was yet another step in this journey of friendship, and we owe much gratitude to those who came before us for fostering these ties.
Earlier in his speech, Marsters noted that the Cook Islands had last year celebrated 20 years of formal relations with China.
“Within these 20 years we have collaborated on an array of issues from infrastructure, people to people exchange, sanitation and capacity development, to name a few.
“Through such exchanges we have strengthened the political and economic ties between our two nations.
“This year will be our 21st anniversary and we look forward to bolstering our relationship much more under your leadership.”
Marsters said the official opening of Apii Nikao school, in which the ambassador will participate today (Friday) was the most recent success story relations between the two countries and evidence of the strong bonds and commitment that both shared for the betterment of their countries.
“Another significant and important milestone is Te Mato Vai Project which is now into the second phase of development.
“This is the first tripartite project of its kind which highlights the deepening of this bilateral relationship. I trust, between our two countries and New Zealand, the project will be successfully completed.
“I also trust this project will serve as an example to others of how partnership through multi-lateral cooperation and understanding can be successfully achieved.
Marsters also acknowledged the “One Belt, One Road” initiative designed to lay strong foundations to the way in which China wants to work in the future with the global community.
“The Cook Islands will certainly draw inspiration from such an initiative with regards to strengthening our connectivity with the rest of the world,” Marsters added.