1 Aug 2019

China looking at opening consulate in New Caledonia

12:58 pm on 1 August 2019

Reports from New Caledonia say China plans to open an honorary consulate in Noumea.

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Photo: 123RF

This is being reported by the Nouvelles Caledoniennes which says China wants to attach an advisor to its embassy in Paris to deal with New Caledonia.

The paper quotes a New Caledonian government official Francois Bockel as saying China is closely following developments in the territory.

Next year, New Caledonia is expected to vote in yet another referendum on independence from France after voters last year opted for the status quo.

Mr Bockel is quoted as saying Beijing is readying itself for all possible outcomes in New Caledonia's statutory development.

He is also quoted as saying that China understands that France is well established in New Caledonia, which prevents Beijing from making New Caledonia a target of its imperialism.

Economically, links have deepened with figures showing that two-way trade between New Caledonia and China now exceeds the exchange between the territory and France.

In Melanesia, China already has strong links with Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji, while it is pressuring Solomon Islands to sever its ties with Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province.

China has a consulate in French Polynesia.