China Pacific: Island nations fail to reach consensus on security deal with China

The Chinese ambassador has confirmed that Beijing will drop its proposal for a regional Pacific accord after weeks of rising tensions.

The Chinese ambassador has confirmed that China will suspend its proposal for a regional Pacific accord after weeks of tension from the West over the superpower’s regional diplomatic blitz.

Chinese officials say there is “general support” for the superpower’s presence in the Pacific, but local leaders have expressed concerns about “specific issues”.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Pacific island leaders and senior officials on Monday, but failed to reach a full agreement. According to the ABC, the security deal failed to garner consensus support from the 10 island nations.

“The geopolitical tally means less than little to anyone whose community is slipping under rising seas, whose jobs have been lost due to a pandemic,” Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said at the summit.

East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta described the geopolitical surge as a “wake-up call”.

“The Pacific Islands have learned to play superpower rivalry to their advantage,” he said via The temperature.

Members attending the virtual summit were expected to discuss leaked proposals for China to radically increase its involvement in South Pacific security, economy and politics.

The secret deal would allow China to train local police, engage in cybersecurity, expand political ties, conduct sensitive nautical mapping, and gain better access to natural resources on land and in the sea. ‘water.

As an incentive, Beijing is offering millions of dollars in financial aid, a proposed free trade agreement and access to China’s vast market of 1.4 billion people.

Ahead of the meeting, President Xi Jinping sent a message that China would be “a good brother” to the region and that they shared a “common destiny”, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Only Pacific countries that recognize China rather than Taiwan attended today’s summit, including those Wang has already visited on his regional tour – the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji.

The proposal comes as Beijing is jostling with Washington and its allies over influence in the strategically vital Pacific.

Analysts say the deal is unlikely to be unanimously approved by Pacific island leaders today.

A recent security deal between the Solomon Islands and China has caused deep unease in a region that is typically more concerned with climate change than superpower politics.

“The Solomon Islands came across as an outlier, there was no interest,” said Richard Herr, a University of Tasmania scholar who has decades of Pacific island experience.

He predicted that the region would be reluctant to “be drawn into geostrategic competition”, he said.

Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo recently warned other Pacific leaders that the deal could cause “the fracture of regional peace, security and stability” in the days leading up to the summit.

The president of Palau, a Pacific nation that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan, told the ABC on Monday that the region “should be concerned” about the proposed deals.

Western powers have bristled at the deals, with the US State Department warning the Pacific to be wary of “dark and vague deals with little transparency” with China.

Australia has joined the United States in urging South Pacific countries to criticize China’s attempts to expand its security reach deep into the region, with the country’s new foreign minister warning of ” consequences” of such agreements.

But many Pacific countries are also keen to maintain friendly ties with China, balancing relations between Beijing and Washington or playing against each other.

So it’s far from clear what Pacific island leaders will say to Wang on Monday or in a series of closed-door meetings around the South Pacific.

“It’s hard to believe that China’s foreign minister will come to the region and be told to go home,” Herr said.

“It could be awkward. Every Chinese diplomat in the region will work on this.

Wang said on Sunday that Beijing stands ready to work with other major powers in the Pacific region to help island nations develop.

“China is willing to carry out more tripartite cooperation with other countries, especially countries with traditional influence in the region,” he said during his meeting with the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum. , Henry Puna.

He described his Pacific tour as “a journey of peace, friendship and cooperation”, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement.

Wang is expected to stay in Fiji’s capital until at least Tuesday, meet with the country’s leaders and host the second China-Pacific island countries foreign ministers’ meeting.

China’s foreign minister will travel to Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Tonga – just months after the island nation was devastated by a deadly earthquake and tsunami – to complete his tour.

— with AFP

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