Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi speaks during the general debate of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, on Sept. 26, 2014. (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)
SUVA, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has criticized an Australian government minister's false accusation of China's aid program in the Pacific region, saying that the accusation is "insulting" to the Pacific Island leaders, and has the capacity to "destroy" Australia's relationship with the region.
"The comments by the development minister have certainly surprised me, indeed, they are quite insulting to the leaders of Pacific Island neighbors," Tuilaepa told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Australia's national broadcaster, on Friday.
Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific Concetta Fierravanti-Wells this week accused China of providing loans to Pacific nations on unfavorable terms and constructing "useless buildings" and "roads to nowhere" in the region.
The comments seemed to question the integrity, wisdom and intelligence of the leaders of the Pacific Islands, the prime minister said, adding that the comments undermined Australia's diplomatic efforts in the region.
"These kinds of comments can destroy the excellent relationships existing between Australia and the Pacific Island neighbors, particularly Samoa," he said.
Disagreeing with Fierravanti-Wells' claim that Chinese money was being misspent, the prime minister said that the money has proved crucial in his country's efforts to tackle the impact of climate change, which is widely considered to be the biggest threat facing mankind.
Tuilaepa praised China for being better placed to provide the assistance to Samoa than Australia which has long regarded the Pacific Island states as its own backyard.
"I do not really know that Australia is able to finance the kind of assistance provided by China," he said. "The kind of assistance provided by China are those kinds which are not within the aid budgets of Australia."
He also denied that there was a strategic element to China's aid in the region, saying that China had not asked his country to give its access to ports or airports.
In a related development, Tuilaepa has also rubbished claims that his government is borrowing a lot of money from China.
"It's wrong, it's totally wrong. Look for a report issued by the Central Bank that is where the accurate information is found," he told Samoa Observer on Thursday.
"It is stupid to look at the totality of the loan, the assumption the loans are to be paid next week. That is ridiculous," he said.
"We are always paying attention to our loans and the World Bank oversees the ability to maintain our loans within reasonable levels of our developments."
China is always standing firmly together with developing countries including the Pacific Island states, committed to offering true assistance and sincere support to them without any political conditions, and devoting themselves, with all the other countries, to promote the construction of a new type of international relations of equality, mutual-respect and win-win cooperation.