Negotiations between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the 10 Pacific island nations failed to reach an agreement on a comprehensive security agreement on Monday, after sharp warnings the proposal would push the region into “Beijing’s orbit.”
A virtual summit of leaders and foreign ministers is expected to discuss proposals to increase China’s involvement in security, economy and politics in the South Pacific.
But the effort appears to have failed after some regional leaders expressed deep concern.
“As always, we put consensus first,” co-host and Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said after the meeting, indicating that a broader agreement would be needed before any “new regional agreement” could be reached.
Wang is in the Fijian capital, Subha, as part of a 10-day diplomatic blitz, as Beijing clashes with Washington and its allies over its influence in the strategically important Pacific region.
Ahead of his visit, China proposed an agreement that would allow Beijing to train Pacific island police, engage in cyber security, expand political ties, conduct sensitive maritime mapping, and gain greater access to natural resources on land and water.
As a temptation, Beijing has offered millions of dollars in financial aid, the prospect of a China-Pacific Free Trade Agreement, and access to a huge market for China’s 1.4 billion people.
China has established itself as a “major developing country” in the South Pacific that stands shoulder to shoulder with small and medium-sized countries.
Prior to the meeting, President Xi Jinping sent a message that China would be “a good brother” in the region and that they shared a “common destiny”, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
But in a letter to other regional leaders, David Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, warned that the proposed agreement was “unscrupulous” and would ensure “Chinese influence in government” and “economic control” of key industries.
After Monday’s closed-door meeting, Wang did not directly quote the proposed “Common Development Vision” document, but said the two sides would “continue ongoing and in-depth discussions and consultations to build further consensus on cooperation.”
He added: “China will publish its own position paper highlighting our own position and proposals and proposals for cooperation with the Pacific island nations.”
Wang instead announced that the 10 Pacific island nations had agreed to memorandums of understanding on China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative, urging those concerned about Beijing’s intentions to be “not too worried and not too nervous.”
Western powers have stepped in to oppose China’s move in the region, with the US State Department warning South Pacific nations to be wary of “shady, ambiguous agreements with little transparency”.
The country’s new foreign minister has warned of the “consequences” of such an agreement, with Australia joining the United States in rejecting China’s efforts to extend its security deeper into the region.
Many in the Pacific are keen to maintain friendly relations with China, balancing relations between Beijing and Washington, as well as focusing on the more pressing threat of climate change and daily economic problems.
During a joint appearance with Wang, Bainimarama lashed out at those employed in “geopolitical point-scoring” that “whose community is slipping under the rising sea, whose jobs have been lost in the epidemic or whose families have been affected.” By rapid growth “.
All but a few of the Pacific islands are deeply vulnerable to rising sea levels due to lowlands and climate change.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)