10 Mar 2005

Chinese Embassy in Suva can't confirm interest in regional airline

7:30 pm on 10 March 2005

The Chinese Embassy in Suva says it cannot confirm local television reports that China is interested in setting up a regional airline in the South Pacific.

Fiji TV has reported that China has already raised the issue with the Fiji government and is willing to invest 60-million US dollars to start the airline.

The television report said the proposal has been interpreted as a move by China to increase its influence in the region.

However Embassy staff say they know very little about the proposal.

The chief executive of Fiji's Civil Aviation Ministry, Vuetasau Buatoka, says any feasibility study of the proposal would have to include Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga and Samoa.

He says South Pacific states must tread carefully if they don't want to sell their sovereignty in the process.