History of the Chinese in Samoa

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Wang Xuefeng

Speech by China’s Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng, at the recent opening of the history of Chinese in Samoa Exhibition. 

 

It is with great pleasure that I come to attend the first public screening of the documentary Dragons in Paradise in Samoa and the Opening Ceremony of The History of Chinese in Samoa Exhibition.

First of all, I would like to express my warm congratulations to Ms Ronna Lee for the successful opening of the exhibition featuring the history of Chinese in Samoa. 

Through our many talks with Ronna in the past two years and through reading the articles in yesterday’s newspaper, we were very much impressed by the persistent efforts of this Samoan Chinese girl in finding out who she is, which led her to 20-year-long in-depth research about history of Chinese in Samoa. 

We felt very happy for her that she successfully traced her family roots in China and even returned to her grandfather’s home in Taishan of Guangdong Province where she met many of her Chinese relatives. What she did has not been just about finding out the family roots in China. Actually, her consistent effort in doing research on the history of  indentured Chinese workers between 1903 and 1930 has been outstanding contribution to the mutual understanding as well as enhancing the friendship of the peoples of China and Samoa.

Dating back about 150 years, Chinese workers on European merchant’s ships started to settle down in Samoa and started their own businesses through their honest and hard work. Later, between 1903 and 1930, many indentured Chinese workers were taken to Samoa. 

Even under the extremely harsh working condition and treatment at that time, the Chinese workers still worked very hard and tried their best to be friendly with local people. 

They made their contribution to the development of Samoa, leaving legacy of their success story for their descendants both in Samoa and in China. The success stories of Chinese workers and their descendants in Samoa have been well known to people. 

For example, Mr. Chan Mow and his family, Mr. Leung Wai and his family, to name only a few. 

Their descendants have all inherited the virtues of their ancestors and also achieved remarkable success in various fields through their hard work while maintaining their humble personality and always being ready to help each other. 

These virtues were kindly acknowledged by Hon. Tuilaepa, Prime Minister of Samoa in his interview last month by the journalists of China Central Television (CCTV), the top TV station in China. He remarked and I quote, “ I pay tribute to Chinese workers who have injected Samoa development with work ethic.”

Indeed, China-Samoa friendship has been long-standing and time-honored. Chinese people and their descendants have been an indispensable part of Samoan history. Just as His Excellency, Tapusalaia Terry Toomata, Ambassador of the Independent State of Samoa to the People’s Republic of China remarked in his interview by Global Times and I quote, “Samoa’s relations with China go back a long way, long before the bilateral relationship was established formally in 1975. 

We have a long history of people-to-people relations with China, going back to the late 18th century when the first Chinese arrived in Samoa. So, we are quite familiar with the Chinese connections and there are lots of people in Samoa who have Chinese ancestors.” Furthermore, China has always cherished the friendship with Samoa and treated Samoa as brother. 

The relationship of our two countries has been ever deepening over the past four decades since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between our two countries, with great achievements of exchange and cooperation being made in all fields of economic and social development of our two countries including infrastructure, trade and economy, education, culture, sports, agriculture, medical service, human resources training, IT technology, etc. 

As true and long-standing friend of Samoa, China will continue to strengthen its relation with Samoa. 

In the keynote speech made by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he hosted his collective meeting  in PNG a few weeks ago with leaders from eight Pacific Island countries including Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa, President Xi stressed that the countries should work to increase the friendship among the peoples. He pledged that China is willing to support the island countries in personnel training, promote Chinese teaching and people-to-people exchanges, as well as strengthen communication among people from all walks of life. 

Also, in President Xi’s signed article titled “Set Sail on a New Voyage for Relations Between China and Pacific Island Countries” before he paid a state visit to PNG, he stressed that we need to write a new chapter in people-to-people friendship. China will continue to increase exchange and cooperation with Pacific island countries in culture, education, medical services, sports, youth and human resources training and at the sub-national level. We also welcome friends from these countries to visit, study, invest or do business in China. 

This will help deepen mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples and carry forward our friendship from generation to generation. 

I would like to give a few examples of the deepening people-to-people exchange between China and Samoa in recent years. 

Every year, there have been about 300 Samoan participants going to China to attend various kinds of training programs aiming at the capacity building for Samoa. 

There have been about 30 Samoan students each year going to China on Chinese Government Scholarships for Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree study. 

Chinese eye doctors have come to Samoa for four consecutive years, providing free cataract surgeries for hundred of patients. 

Chinese government has sent medical teams to Samoa to provide voluntary medical services to people for over 30 years since 1980s. China will provide strong support to Samoa in hosting 2019 Pacific Games including building a new Gym, supply of vehicles and sport facilities, training of athletes, coaches and chefs, etc. We sincerely wish Samoa will win most medals in the Games.

Looking back on history, we marvel at the long-lasting China-Samoa friendship. Looking forward to the future, we are confident that China-Samoa relationship will scale new heights under the concerted efforts of peoples of both countries. We sincerely wish that our peoples will benefit more and more from bright future of the common prosperity of our two countries. Thank you! 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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