by Xinhua Writers Zhang Yongxing, Tai Beiping and Zheng Xin
SUVA, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- "Samoa and China enjoy good relationship and we, as Samoans, very appreciate Chinese assistance which is really a big help for us," a Samoan couple told Xinhua recently.
It was a sunny afternoon, 49-year-old Aukusitino Ng Lam, a taxi driver and his wife, 34-year-old Meritiana Oti, accepted Xinhua's interview in their Samoan-style house in Mulinu'u village of Apia, capital of the South Pacific island nation of Samoa.
The Samoan couple, having a big family with six children, expressed their heartfelt appreciation to Chinese assistance. Their eldest son was wearing a red T-shirt with Samoan and Chinese national flags written "Samoa-China friendship."
Some Samoans carry Chinese DNA and taxi driver Aukusitino is one of them. His grandfather came from China's Shanghai and worked in the island nation as a chef while himself worked for a Apia-based Chinese company for about five years.
"My family is a half Chinese. I like China and the hardworking Chinese. They are friendly towards us and have helped us a lot. Now I can drive taxi for making more money to support my family as more and more Chinese tourists visit our country," Aukusitino said.
Pleased with his job as a taxi driver, he can now get as much as over 80 -100 Samoan Talas (about 30-38 U.S. dollars) per day.
The tourism industry is an important and major contributor to the Samoan economy and a source of livelihood to the local people. The island nation received over 172,000 foreign tourists last year.
With the launch of the 2019 year of tourism for China and Pacific island countries in Apia in April this year, Samoa now has a development blueprint to woo more foreign tourists including Chinese tourists.
Aukusitino spoke highly of China for providing the island nation with a lot of assistance such as Apia's new Faleolo International Airport with the unique Polynesian style.
"They are helping us through a number of successful projects such as the demonstration farm project near Apia. They have helped us build big buildings, airports, bridges and roads in our country," he said, adding that Samoa would not be able to host the July Pacific Games without China's help.
Meritiana, a former TV journalist and now a staff member of the Samoan Ministry of Education, said that as Samoans, they really appreciate China's efforts.
"China's assistance is very appreciated in Samoa because it is really a help for the Samoan people. Samoans welcome Chinese assistance from the bottom of their hearts," she said.
"I know China is generous to offer Samoa a lot and is helping us in so many ways, not only in education, but also in the agricultural field just like the demonstration farm," she said, noting that the help is widely welcomed in the nation as China knows what Samoa needs.
"It is the Chinese assistance that has helped promote our country's social and economic development." said Meritiana. "China, not like others, has never told us what we should do and what we should not do," she said.
"This is awesome, we are so grateful and very appreciate it. We should really welcome them with open arms," she said. "I think that for Samoa and China, we can learn from each other. The two countries should come along, should work together for a shared development in the future, and in doing so, we should also further strengthen people-to-people exchanges."
Aukusitino and Meritiana stressed the importance of strengthening good relations between the two countries as China is more helpful and a good friend to Samoa.
"We believe that with China's help, Samoa will become better and better in the future," they said.
China and Samoa formed diplomatic ties in 1976. On the basis of full respect for the country's will for social and economic development, China has provided assistance to the island nation in various fields over the past decades.
The recent third China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum, another milestone of the relationship between China and the Pacific island countries, was held successfully in Apia, with the two sides agreeing to further step up win-win cooperation in trade, tourism, infrastructure and tackling climate change.