China Tries to Reach Consensus with the Pacific Island Nations

China could not reach a full agreement with the 10 Pacific island nations in the first round of talks organized by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang in Fiji on Monday.

Wang hosted the meeting in Fiji with his counterparts from 10 Pacific island nations as part of a wider diplomatic tour of the region, which has caused concern for the U.S. and its allies in the region.

China’s draft communique and five-year action plan sent ahead of the talks showed that Beijing was seeking a sweeping regional trade and security pact. The draft communique drew opposition from at least one invited nation, Micronesia.

After the meeting, Wang said the nations agreed on five areas of cooperation but more discussions were needed to reach a full consensus. The five areas he listed included economic recovery after the COVID pandemic, and new centers for agriculture and disaster, but did not include security.

Wang said despite questions about China’s motives in the region, its aim was to support developing nations in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

He added that common development and prosperity of China and all the other developing countries would only mean “great harmony, greater justice and greater progress of the world”

Fiji’s Prime Minister Bainimarama said the Pacific nations were prioritizing consensus.

Bainimarama stated that when people face with rising seas, unemployment because of the pandemic or rapid rise in commodity prices, geopolitical issues means less than little.

Xi said in his written address to the meeting that China would be a good friend of Pacific island countries no matter how the international situation changes.

The United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand have expressed concern about a security pact signed by Solomon Islands with China last month, saying it had regional consequences and could lead to a Chinese military presence close to Australia.

Australia’s new government has made the Pacific island nations a foreign policy priority to counter Beijing’s efforts to assert influence. The foreign minister visited Fiji with the message Australia would put new priority on the region’s biggest security challenge of climate change and announcing a new visa programme to allow Pacific island citizens to migrate.

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