China strikes deal with Samoa sparking new concerns in Western sphere

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has signed an agreement with Samoa, an island country in the Pacific Ocean. The two countries have decided to strengthen their diplomatic relations. This has sent alarm bells ringing in Australia, New Zealand and Western countries including the United States. Newly sworn in Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had “a comprehensive plan”.

China’s deal with Samoa came after its pact with Solomon Islands, another Pacific island nation. The region was traditionally considered to be within the zone of influence of Australia and New Zealand.

Australia’s Prime Minister Albanese said on Saturday his Labor government’s plan includes a defense training school, support for maritime security, increased aid and a re-engagement of the region on climate change.

“We will be proactive in the region, we want to engage,” he told reporters.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Pacific tour seeking a 10-nation agreement on security and trade. In Samoa, he met Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa and signed documents including an “economic and technical cooperation agreement”, Samoa said in a statement.

“Samoa and the People’s Republic of China will continue to pursue greater collaboration that meets common interests and commitments,” he said.

Also on Saturday, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said he had a “wonderful meeting” with Australian Penny Wong, who visited days after taking office to show the new government’s attention to the islands. of the Pacific.

“Fiji is no one’s backyard – we are part of a Pacific family,” Bainimarama wrote on Twitter, posting a photo of him and Penny Wong shaking hands.

Wang Yi is due to travel to Fiji, where he will hold a meeting on Monday.

(With agency contributions)

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