Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with counterparts from 10 Pacific island nations in Fiji on Monday in the middle of a diplomatic tour of the region, where China’s ambitions for broader security ties have caused concern among US allies.
Pacific island nations with diplomatic ties to China are attending a meeting hosted by Wang, who previously met with Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
A draft communiqué and a five-year action plan sent by China to invited nations, including Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Niue and Vanuatu before the meeting, show that China is pursuing large-scale regional trade and security agreement.
But the draft communique has sparked resistance from at least one of the invited nations, the Federated States of Micronesia, according to a letter that expired last week.
As the region’s borders are closed due to the COVID pandemic, most foreign ministers are attending the Fiji summit via video link. In several Pacific countries, the foreign minister is also prime minister.
Several invited nations want to postpone or amend the communiqué, a Pacific official told Reuters.
Some Pacific islands have joined some of the individual security components that China is looking for in the regional agreement in recent days, according to statements issued by governments and China.
An agreement has been reached in Samoa for a police fingerprint laboratory to complement the Chinese-funded police training academy, Samoa said in a statement.
The United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand have expressed concern over the Solomon Islands security pact with China last month, saying it has regional implications and could lead to a Chinese military presence near Australia.
The new Australian government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has made the Pacific Islands a foreign policy priority to counter Beijing’s pressure by announcing a school of defense training, support for maritime security, boosting aid and re-engaging the region in changing the region. climate.
Last week in Honiara, Wang condemned the interference in the deal and said Solomon Islands’ relations with China were a model for other Pacific island nations.
(Report by Kirsty Needham in Sydney; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)
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