Politics

Samoa, Niue ask for time to consider China’s plan for the Pacific

Sydney, Australia, May 31 (EFE).- Samoa and Niue, two Pacific island states, called for more time to consider China’s contentious multilateral security and cooperation plan for ten countries in this region.

The Chinese plan for the strategic region was stalled on Monday over lack of consensus among the countries.

“We would like time to consider how the arrangement with China will support existing regional plans to ensure that our priorities are aligned and will be beneficial for all of us for regional prosperity,” Niue’s Premier Dalton Tagelagi said in a statement.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a long tour of the Pacific, which continued Tuesday through Tonga, and he acknowledged at a press conference from Fiji the previous day that the proposal does not have the consensus of all the nations in the region.

The Chinese diplomat appeared in the media after chairing a virtual meeting from Suva with his counterparts from Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Niue and Micronesia.

According to documents obtained last week by several media entities, China looks to sign a five-year agreement with the Pacific nations, seeking access to maritime and fisheries resources, as well as the possible dispatch of security forces, among other things.

This proposal has set off alarm bells for other regional powers such as the United States and Australia, which see the deal as a risk to regional security.

Samoa’s prime minister and diplomatic head Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said her government has not made a decision on the ambitious Pacific plan because she did not have time to analyze it, according to Samoan daily Talamua.

Despite the setback, Wang Yi said he would continue contacts to shape a greater consensus on cooperation, referring to the mechanisms envisaged by the Pacific Islands Forum on regional security issues.

Before returning to China, Wang will also visit Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, as well as East Timor in Southeast Asia, to conclude his 10-day tour.

wat/sc

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