China fails to reach consensus on security pact with Pacific nations

Sydney, Australia, May 30 (EFE).- Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday that China had failed to reach a consensus with 10 Pacific Island nations on a broad agreement on security and trade.

“We will continue to have ongoing and in-depth discussions and consultations to shape more consensus on cooperation,” Wang said during a joint press conference with Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in Suva.

Wang’s remarks came after a virtual meeting with ten counterparts from the Pacific in the context of a possible multilateral pact that has set off alarm bells in countries like the United States and Australia.

All participating countries were part of the Pacific Islands Forum.

China was pursuing a five-year agreement with Pacific Island nations with which it maintains diplomatic relations.

Documents leaked to the media last week indicated that the pact included access to the fishing and marine resources and the possible deployment of Chinese security forces.

Present in the virtual meet were representatives from the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Niue, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Wang said China would publish a document on its position and proposals in the region.

He stressed that China aimed to assist in the “development” of the Pacific countries in a veiled response to countries accusing Beijing of seeking to extend its influence in the region.

The Chinese ambassador to Fiji, Qian Bo, admitted that some countries have expressed “concerns on some specific issues.”

He did not give details, Australian public broadcaster ABC reported.

Wang began his 10-day, eight-nation tour to the Pacific region on May 25.

The trip has sparked concerns in the US, Australia, and New Zealand, which until now exerted influence over the regional countries.

Australia and the US, launching campaigns to strengthen their influence in the Pacific, warned against the rise of the Chinese hegemony.

Wang has already visited the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and Samoa.

He will be in Fiji until Tuesday before moving to Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor in Southeast Asia.

China signed a slew of agreements with Kiribati and Samoa during the trip.

These include cooperation in development, infrastructure, natural disasters, and climate change.

On Monday, it sealed another set of agreements with Fiji.

China signed a controversial security pact with the Solomon Islands in April.

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