China is sending a martial arts expert to Fiji to teach Cabinet ministers in the Pacific island nation’s military regime the slow-motion techniques of taichi, officials in Suva said Monday.
In a sign of growing ties between Beijing and Suva, Fijian Education Minister Filipe Bole said China agreed to send the taichi master when Chinese Sports Minister Liu Peng (劉鵬) visited Fiji earlier this year.
Bole said the expert, who was due to arrive yesterday, would spend three months teaching taichi to Cabinet ministers, public servants, police, military and the general public.
He said taichi was used for defense training and had health benefits.
The move is one of the more unusual results of Fiji’s push to increase ties with China in the face of condemnation from traditional allies Australia and New Zealand over Fijian military leader Voreqe Bainimarama’s regime.
Since Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup, Australia and New Zealand have successfully pushed for Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum.
Bainimarama has responded by looking elsewhere for allies, saying last month that China was the one country that understands the reforms he is trying to implement ahead of elections he says will be held in 2014.
Fiji said earlier this month that it will open diplomatic missions in Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil.