Fiji, New Zealand finalize military agreement amid China tensions

Sydney, Australia, June 7 (EFE).- Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said Wednesday that his country and New Zealand would finalize a bilateral defense agreement next week, amid tensions due to the growing influence of China in the Pacific region.

Rabuka told a news conference in Wellington, along with his New Zealand counterpart Chris Hipkins, that the agreement would allow New Zealand troops to work permanently in Fiji and contribute to training Fijian soldiers, as well as improve the collaboration between both armies.

The Fijian leader also said his government is reviewing the police cooperation agreements with China signed in 2011 by his predecessor Frank Bainimara, who was more aligned with Beijing. It allows the training of Fijian officers in the country and the deployment of Chinese forces at the request of Suva.

Rabuka said his country is considering whether to align itself again with nations with which he shares “values, systems, legislation and law enforcement agencies” by urging regional unity to deal with tensions.

The Pacific region regained its geopolitical importance in April 2022 when the Solomon Islands signed an opaque security pact with China, opening the possibility for Beijing to send in its security forces at the request of Honiara.

This agreement also raised fears among countries that have historically controlled the region, such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand, that it would open up the possibility of China establishing a military base in the Pacific, which Honiara flatly denies.

Since, Washington and Canberra have increased their interest in the Pacific and are promoting security and defense pacts with the island nations, the last of which was signed last month between the North American country and Papua New Guinea. EFE


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