23 Feb 2007

Tonga seeks Chinese assistance to rebuild Nuku'alofa

5:43 pm on 23 February 2007

Tonga's finance minister, Siosiua 'Utoikamanu, has invited Chinese officials in a bid to seek assistance with the rebuilding of Nuku'alofa following last November's riots.

The Tongan government says Mr Utoikamanu has returned from China where he met senior officials from the Ministry of Commerce, China Ex-Im Bank, foreign ministry, and the China Civil Engineering Construction Company.

He says the initial response indicates a willingness from the Chinese government to consider Tonga's request for reconstruction assistance.

During the riot, many businesses owned by Chinese people were targetted, prompting them to seek shelter on the Chinese embassy premises.

The Chinese government the sent a plane to evacuate about 200 people from Tonga.