US expresses commitment to Pacific islands that rejected China pact

The United States said on Tuesday it was committed to supporting countries in the Pacific Ocean region. The words came just a day after ten Pacific nations rejected a pact with China. The United States said Beijing’s own actions showed how opaque its offer was.

The rejection of the pact is seen as a diplomatic setback for China.

State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated that the United States, like Australia, had made clear its concerns that China had offered an “obscure” deal with regional consultations.

In keeping with Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s tone on America’s rivalry with China, Price did not rejoice and said the Pacific islands were making their “own sovereign decisions.”

“We are committed to continuing to deepen our relationships with our Pacific Island and Indo-Pacific partners, including working together to serve our people,” Price told reporters.

Price pointed to concerns raised by reporters from Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands who covered Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit, including the refusal to allow questions.

Read also | Wang Yi’s visit: Journalists prevented from covering events in the Pacific?

“When we talk about these opaque, murky deals, I think you just have to look … at the PRC’s efforts to obfuscate these deals,” Price said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

Beijing has tried “even to go so far as to prevent regional officials from confronting journalists from their own country(ies),” he said.

China has proposed a pact that would include expanded training for Pacific island police, carrying out sensitive nautical mapping and better access to natural resources.

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