On Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with leaders and top officials from ten Pacific Island countries as part of a regional diplomatic blitz that has alarmed the West.

The virtual summit is intended to address rumored demands for China to significantly extend its participation in the South Pacific’s security, economy, and politics.
Wang is in Suva, Fiji’s capital, where he will co-host a virtual meeting with regional foreign ministers, many of whom are also small-island leaders.
A secret contract on the table, obtained by AFP, would see China train local police, become involved in cybersecurity, strengthen political ties, conduct sensitive maritime mapping, and gain more access to natural resources on land and in the ocean.

Beijing is enticing the Pacific Islands with millions of dollars in financial aid, the promise of a China-Pacific Islands free trade pact, and access to China’s 1.4 billion-person market.

Only Pacific states that recognize China over Taiwan will attend today’s conference, including the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, and Fiji, which Wang has already visited on his regional whistle-stop.

The suggestion comes as Beijing vies for influence in the strategically important Pacific with Washington and its allies.

According to analysts, Pacific Island leaders are unlikely to unanimously ratify the pact today.

A recent security agreement between the Solomon Islands and China has sparked considerable alarm in a territory that is generally more concerned with climate change than with superpower politics.
“The Solomon Islands came off as an oddity, and there was no rush of interest,” said Richard Herr, a University of Tasmania academic with decades of experience working in the Pacific Islands.

He predicted that the region will be wary of being “dragged into geostrategic competition.”

Beijing’s recent proposal has already drawn some criticism, including from David Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, who cautioned fellow Pacific leaders that it may lead to “the shattering of regional peace, security, and stability.”

The president of Palau, a Pacific nation with diplomatic relations to Taiwan, told ABC News on Monday that the planned treaties should worry the region.
The US State Department has warned the Pacific to be wary of “shadowy, opaque accords with minimal transparency” with China, citing the US State Department as an example.

Australia has joined the US in pressing South Pacific countries to reject China’s plans to extend its security reach far into the region, with Australia’s new foreign minister warning of the “consequences” of such arrangements.

Many Pacific countries, on the other hand, want to retain friendly relations with China, balancing relations between Beijing and Washington or pitting them against each other.
So yet, it’s unclear what Pacific Island leaders will tell Wang in a series of closed-door talks across the South Pacific on Monday.

“It’s difficult to suppose the Chinese foreign minister will visit the region just to be forced to leave,” Herr added.
“It may cause humiliation.” That is something that every Chinese diplomat in the region will be working on.”

Wang stated on Sunday that Beijing is eager to collaborate with other major powers in the Pacific to assist island nations in their development.
When he met with Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna, he said, “China is eager to carry out more tripartite collaboration with other nations, especially countries with traditional influence in the region.”

According to a Chinese foreign ministry statement, he hailed his Pacific journey as “a trip of peace, friendship, and collaboration.”
Wang is scheduled to stay in Fiji’s capital until at least Tuesday, where he will meet with the country’s leaders and hold the second China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

To cap out his journey, the Chinese foreign minister will travel to Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga, which was devastated by a terrible earthquake and tsunami just months ago.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here