10 Pacific nations push back on China’s push for broad regional security pact

In a major setback for China, ten Pacific island nations on Monday pushed back against China’s push for a far-reaching regional security pact.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who held talks with the leaders of these nations, failed to reach an agreement on the security pact.

After a meeting with his counterparts postponed consideration of a far-reaching trade and security communiqué, Yi on Monday urged the Pacific region not to be “too anxious” about his country’s goals.

“China will issue its own position paper on our own positions and proposals and proposals for cooperation with Pacific island countries, and in the future, we will continue to have continuous and in-depth discussions and consultations to achieve greater consensus on cooperation,” he told reporters in Fiji.

“Don’t be too anxious and don’t be too nervous, because the common development and prosperity of China and all other developing countries will only mean greater harmony, greater justice and greater progress of the world. entire,” he said.

Directly challenging the influence of the United States and its allies in the strategically vital region, China is proposing to radically increase its activities in the South Pacific.

“There has been general support from the 10 countries with which we have diplomatic relations, but of course there are concerns on some specific issues,” Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo said.

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A draft five-year communiqué and action plan sent by China met with opposition from the Federated States of Micronesia, according to a letter leaked last week.

As a result, other countries wanted it changed or a decision delayed, an official from a Pacific country told Reuters ahead of the meeting.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna said: “We are all well aware of the growing intensity of geopolitical maneuvering in our region today. Indeed, the recent influx of high-level visits to our blue Pacific demonstrates the growing value our partners, including China, must place on our collective ability to think, live, engage and deliver.”

“The geopolitical score means less than little to anyone whose community is slipping under rising seas, whose job is lost due to the pandemic, or whose family is impacted by rapidly rising commodity prices,” he said. said Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

As the US State Department warns South Pacific countries to beware of “gloomy, vague deals with little transparency”, Western powers have bristled at China’s entry into the region.

Joining the United States in urging rejection of China’s attempts to extend its security reach deep into the region, Australia’s new foreign minister also warned of the negative “consequences” of such deals.

(With agency contributions)

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