PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - The construction of a Chinese trade development zone in Mauritius is a major development in bilateral relations.
Here are some other facts about the relationship:
DIPLOMACY - Mauritius has supported Beijing’s policy on Taiwan since 1972. In return, Mauritius has asked China for its continued support with Mauritian sovereignty claims on the Chagos Islands, part of Mauritius until independence. Claimed by Britain, one of the islands - Diego Garcia - houses a major U.S. military base.
CULTURE - Mauritius has a small Chinese community, mostly from the south of China.
TRADE - Imports from China grew 38 percent in 2007 to 13.7 billion rupees ($505 million) from 10 billion rupees in 2006. Imports from China have trebled in the past five years, now accounting for 11.4 percent of imports into Mauritius.
TOURISM - Beijing has officially authorized Mauritius as a Chinese tourist destination. Mauritius welcomed 7,739 Chinese tourists last year, a rise of around 59 percent from 4,875 in 2006. The Indian Ocean nation is seeking to more than double the number of visitors it receives each year to two million by 2015.
TEXTILES - Mauritius’ key textiles industry suffered a big hit, losing 25,000 jobs, when the end of global trade preferences in January 2005 opened markets to the competitive Chinese. Mauritian textile companies say they can offer high quality goods much quicker, but cannot compete with China in terms of labor costs or economies of scale.
FISHING - Fishing experts warn the sustainable management of Indian Ocean tuna stocks may be hampered by the exclusion of a major fishing fleet, the Taiwanese, from the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, a regional management body. China opposes Taiwanese membership of most international organizations.