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My CIIE Story • Great Opportunity | Expo brings China, Fiji closer Release date: 2022-11-03    Source:China International Import Expo Bureau

Editor's Note: The fifth China International Import Expo will open in one day. Several participants of the CIIE are telling their stories themed around "great opportunity" to showcase the positive changes the expo has made to the world and how it has helped build a community with a shared future for mankind over the past five years.


Fijian products are on display. [Photo/CIIE Bureau]

Fiji is an 18,000-square-kilometer island country in the South Pacific and has a population of about 900,000.

Trade relations between Fiji and China have become closer in recent years. The trade between the two countries in 2021 reached $453 million, up 31 percent year-on-year and almost 200 times the figure when they first established diplomatic ties. An important factor behind the remarkable trade growth is the CIIE.

Fijian companies attended the inaugural edition of the expo in 2018 and introduced specialties including mineral water, noni juice, and skincare products to Chinese consumers. Following the inaugural CIIE, Fijian products have gained more influence and popularity in the Chinese market.


Fijian dancers in traditional costumes give a performance at a square of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) during the inaugural CIIE. [Photo/CIIE Bureau]

Fiji also showcased its natural scenery and local handicrafts at its national pavilion during the first expo. A dance performance given by Fijian dancers in traditional costumes at the central square of the expo's venue attracted a large crowd of people.

At the second edition, more Fijian specialties such as canned tuna and beer were displayed. Fijian ambassador to China also attended the second Hongqiao International Economic Forum that year. In 2020 and 2021, Fiji participated in the online country exhibition of the CIIE despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inspired by the country exhibition, which is an excellent platform to promote Fijian products, the Fijian consulate-general in China has been working with local governments and business partners to build national pavilions that are open throughout the year. The Fiji Import Pavilion at the Shanghai Greenland Global Commodity Trading Hub has already been open. The pavilion in Nansha district, Guangzhou is near completion, while the one in Guizhou will be unveiled at the end of 2022.

We hope to see more examples of China's opening-up. Fiji will continue to attend this year's country exhibition to showcase its culture and scenic views.

I have another story that can prove the expo's charm. Jadeine Whiteside, a Fijian fashion designer, studied in Shanghai several years ago and was not sure whether to stay in Shanghai or return to Fiji after graduation. Then the CIIE was inaugurated and she presented a fashion show at the expo, which attracted a large deal of attention from exhibitors and media. She was convinced to remain in Shanghai where she later created her own brand.

I also have a history with China. In the late 1990s, I obtained a degree in China studies and was the director of the Fiji pavilion at the Expo 2010 Shanghai. I became the consul-general of Fiji in Shanghai in 2015 and have since been living in the city.

China's economic growth has deeply impressed me. The country has achieved great success in high-tech sectors and digital economy. High-tech products made in China have been exported to the world and made lives more convenient.

By Dr. Yok Yee (Yolinda) Chan


The author is the consul-general of Fiji in Shanghai and Fiji's trade commissioner in China.