China seeks close ties with pacific island nations

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As China move to strengthen its ties with its pacific neighbours, its Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, hosted the meeting with foreign ministers from Pacific island nations with diplomatic ties.

At the meeting which was held midway through a diplomatic tour of the region where Beijing’s ambitions for wider security ties have caused concern among US allies, a draft communique and five-year action plan sent by China to the invited nations ahead of the meeting showed China was seeking a sweeping regional trade and security agreement.

After the meeting, which included Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Niue and Vanuatu, Wang said the nations had agreed on five areas of cooperation, but further discussions were needed to shape more consensus.

The five areas he listed included economic recovery after the Covid pandemic, and new centers for agriculture and disaster, but did not include security.

“China will release its own position paper on our own positions and propositions and cooperation proposals with Pacific island countries, and going forward we will continue to have ongoing and in-depth discussions and consultations to shape more consensus on cooperation,” he told reporters in Fiji.

Wang said some had questioned China’s motives in being so active in the Pacific islands, and his response was China supported developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean also.

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

Taking questions after Wang’s briefing, China’s Ambassador to Fiji, Qian Bo, said participants had agreed to discuss the draft communique and the five-year plan “until we have reached an agreement.”

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

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told reporters the Pacific nations were prioritizing consensus.

“Geopolitical point-scoring means less than little to anyone whose community is slipping beneath the rising seas, whose job is being lost to the pandemic, or whose family is impacted by the rapid rise in the price of commodities,” Bainimarama said.

In a written address to the meeting, China’s leader Xi Jinping said China will always be a good friend of Pacific Island countries no matter how the international situation changes, China’s state-owned CCTV reported.

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