Sydney, Australia, May 27 (EFE).- As Foreign Minister Wang Yi embarked on a 10-day regional diplomatic tour, China has said it “never interfered” in the internal affairs of Pacific island countries, nor did it seek the so-called “sphere of influence” in the region.
“The aid and assistance from China have never left any island country mired in debt or security threat. China believes that the South Pacific has never been and should not be the battlefield for geopolitical maneuvering,” the Chinese embassy in Australia said in a statement Thursday.
The statement coincides with Wang’s start of an eight-nation tour amid global concerns that China was working out its military and financial ambitions in the South Pacific region.
The visit that started with a stopover in the Solomon Islands Thursday will take the foreign minister and his delegation to Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor.
In the Solomon Islands, Wang met with acting Governor-General John Patteson.
Wang told Patteson that China would continue upholding South-South cooperation and supporting the Solomon Islands to achieve its development goals.
“China has always advocated the equality of all countries, large and small, and democracy in international relations, and opposed all forms of power politics and bullying,” Wang said, as per a foreign ministry statement.
“China respects Solomon Islands’ development of friendly relations with other countries in the world.”
Wang’s tour has come under a sharp scanner of the global media and diplomatic circles amid alleged Chinese ambitions to seek greater security and economic influence in the region.
Various media outlets have claimed that they have seen documents that propose a sweeping regional security deal between China and the Pacific Island nations.
The purported documents have indicated that China intended to launch a five-year plan on “traditional and non-traditional security” ties in the Pacific as concerns from the United States and its allies grow about Beijing expanding its reach in the strategically critical region.
The agreement that Beijing wants the Pacific island nations to endorse covers everything from security to fisheries, gives China access to maritime resources, and widens law enforcement ties.
Micronesia has strongly condemned the plan, indicating that it would spark a “cold war” between China and the West.
The arrangement, if finalized, would follow a security pact between China and the Solomon Islands that was leaked to the press in April.
The controversial agreement, negotiated in an opaque manner, opens the door for the Solomon Islands to seek Chinese assistance in security matters as it does with Australia and New Zealand.
The agreement has triggered fears in the West and Australia that Beijing might establish military bases in the strategic region.
To regain its influence in the region, the new Australian Labor government sent its Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, to Fiji. EFE