A meeting of Pacific foreign ministers and the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, in the Fijian capital, Suva, the first such meeting, failed to reach an agreement, with Wang later telling his counterparts not to be “too anxious” about his country’s aims.
Setback for China as security and economic deal with Pacific islands fell through China and a cluster of Pacific island countries failed to reach a consensus on overarching security and economic deal on Monday in what appears to be a setback to Beijing’s expanding ambitions in the South Pacific region.
China’s ambassador to Fiji, Qian Bo, told the news outlet that China will release a position paper after Foreign Minister Wang Yi finishes his visit to the region on Saturday. The trip has been seen as a sign of Beijing’s intensifying competition with the US and Australia for influence in the region. China’s plan to sign a sweeping trade and security deal with ten Pacific Island countries was dealt a setback as some of them expressed concern about specific elements in the proposal, In a written speech delivered at the meeting Wang hosted on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will always be a good friend, brother, and partner to Pacific Island nations no matter how the international situation changes. China, Xi said, will stay committed to equality of all countries “regardless of size” and remains guided by principles of sincerity and good faith in developing friendly ties with island countries.
At the meeting in Suva, foreign minister Wang said five areas of cooperation were agreed on by the participating countries, but further discussions were needed for more consensus.
The five areas he listed, according to Reuters, included economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic, and new centers for agriculture and disaster, but did not include security.