A delegation from Zhuhai, including the city’s vice-mayor Zhu Qingqiao, met with government representatives earlier this week for talks on continuing a partnership that was first established between Zhuhai and the Cook Islands three years ago.
Involving representatives from the ministries of culture, tourism, marine resources and agriculture, the Monday meeting was described as “very fruitful” by Culture minister George Maggie.
Also describing the meeting as fruitful, Turua said that the Zhuhai delegation was here to “re-look at the next three years of partnership”.
“They’re looking at areas where they can help us here in the Cook Islands,” he said.
Last August a delegation from Zhuhai handed over an equipment donation to the Ministry of Marine Resources which included two trucks, two motorcycles, four computer monitors, six satellite communication devices and other resources.
More recently, the Chinese city also donated two giant LED screens to the Ministry of Culture, which were installed inside the National Auditorium in time for this year’s Te Maeva Nui celebrations.
“Because of our product here, and because of our uniqueness, they want to continue that support – maybe increasing the number of Chinese at the higher level to come here on holiday,” said Turua, who travelled to Zhuhai last December for an annual tourism culture festival being held there.
“There was high interest,” he said of that trip, which also included a Cook Islands photo exhibition as well as a drumming and dance performance group.
“Our images were just so unique that a lot of the high-end tourists in Zhuhai want to find out where the Cook Islands are so they can come here for a holiday.
“It’s just one way of promoting the Cook Islands – but they’re really interested in our culture as well.”
After an unveiling ceremony for the Ministry of Culture’s two new LED screens at the National Auditorium on Monday, the Zhuhai delegation moved to the National Museum for the opening of a photo exhibition illustrating the culture, industry, scenery and customs of Zhuhai.
“We are very fortunate to be allowed to have this photo exhibition available for the people of the Cook Islands to see the beautiful Zhuhai,” said Turua, before presenting the city’s vice-mayor Qingqiao with a rito hat and fan on behalf of the Cook Islands government.
“We hope that through this exhibition we will enhance the understanding of the Cook Islands people of our city,” said Qingqiao, before extending an invitation to both Turua and Minister Maggie to visit Zhuhai. He also expressed an intention to “organise some youngsters or students from the Cook Islands to visit Zhuhai”.
Referring to the earlier government meeting, Qingqiao also said he believed there was “great potential” for co-operation between Zhuhai and the Cook Islands.
“We have carried out in-depth discussions for our future and I believe we will witness great progress in our friendship and our co-operation,” he said.
Later on Monday the Zhuhai delegation attended that night’s Te Maeva Nui cultural performances before travelling to Aitutaki on Tuesday for a meeting with the island council there.