East Timor’s new President aims to forge closer relations with China

Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta has been inaugurated as East Timor’s new president on Friday. He has pledged to dedicate his time in office to strengthen national unity and forge closer ties with China.

Thousands have travelled to Dili, the capital city to watch the inauguration ceremony. He said, he would represent all Timorese, and seek to rebuild national unity following a protracted political impasse in parliament.

He said, relations with Indonesia, Australia, and the region will be at the top of his national agenda while relations with China will be strengthened.

“It is our intention to expand bilateral cooperation with China,” he said. “Especially in the areas of sustainable, organic agriculture, small industries, trade, new technologies, renewable energy, connectivity, digitalization, artificial intelligence and urban and rural infrastructure.”

He went on to add, he would push for greater food security and propose creating a coffee fund to protect farmers against global price fluctuations.

While he ran in the presidential elections as an independent candidate, Ramos-Horta was backed by the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) party, which is headed by former president and prime minister Xanana Gusmao.

Gusmao has strongly promoted the Tasi Mane project, which would see oil and gas from the Greater Sunrise field developed onshore, and with China touted as a potential developer.

Ramos-Horta said he would continue to foster a special relationship with the United States, and advocate for East Timor to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

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