New Zealand calls for peace, stability in Pacific amid rising tensions

Sydney, Australia, May 25 (EFE).- New Zealand’s prime minister Wednesday called for peace and stability in the Pacific as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi toured the region amid Beijing’s tensions with the United States and other countries.

“There is tension in our region. We have, over various periods of time, seen escalation in language. We will constantly call on New Zealand’s behalf and others for peace and stability in our region, and that’s for all parties,” Jacinda Ardern told New Zealand media on the first day of her trade visit to the US where she hopes to meet President Joe Biden.

Ardern’s visit to the US coincides with Wang’s trip to several island nations in the region.

The Chinese foreign minister will visit the Solomon Islands, with whom Beijing reached a contentious security pact in April, to meet President Manasseh Sogavare on Thursday.

Wang will then travel to another seven Pacific countries including Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

“It’s not necessarily just presence, it’s the nature of that presence and the intention around it,” Ardern added, with regard to the Chinese minister’s tour.

“From our perspective within our region, we’re very firm that yes, of course, we want collaboration in areas where we have shared concern. Issues like climate adaptation and mitigation, we want quality investment and infrastructure in our region, we don’t want militarization, we don’t want an escalation of tension. We want peace and stability so we will remain firm in our values,” said the New Zealand leader, public broadcaster Radio New Zealand reported.

The agreement between Beijing and Honiara, negotiated in an opaque manner and announced without providing details, will allow China to send security forces to the islands to maintain order if requested by the Solomon Islands government, as is the case now with Australia and New Zealand.

However, the biggest concern is that the Asian giant will establish a military base in the country, something that the Solomon Islands government denies.

“What we will question, though, is whether or not some of those arrangements (with the Solomon Islands) are even necessary. Like, ultimately, we have those existing partnerships that New Zealand and Australia have offered and they remain. And we will keep them on the table so our question will continue to be: ‘Are some of those engagements necessary given we are present and we are ready to support?'” Ardern said.

According to an exclusive report on Saturday by the British newspaper Financial Times, which cites US intelligence sources, China is negotiating similar security agreements with Kiribati and another Pacific nation. EFE


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