Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong warned during a visit to Fiji on Friday that the Solomon Islands security agreement with China had regional implications, with her Chinese counterpart saying interference in the agreement would fail.
The two countries’ top diplomats are on a competitive tour of the Pacific islands.
Wang told reporters on Friday that he had traveled to Fiji just days after Australia’s new government was sworn in to prioritize the Pacific.
Australia respects that the Pacific nations make their own decisions about who to partner with, but is concerned about the consequences of the Solomon Islands security agreement, he said.
“As a result, we think it’s important to be determined by the region’s security zone,” he said.
“The world has changed, there is a lot of strategic competition, a lot of disruption of international law – the Russian aggression in Ukraine is a manifestation of that. We hope to find our way through it with you,” he added.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a news briefing in Honiara a day earlier that “scratching and attacking” the security pact would “be an end in itself and that any intervention and sabotage would fail.”
Wang said the security agreement aims to “help the Solomon Islands improve its policing and law enforcement capabilities and help the Solomon Islands better protect its social security as well as protect Chinese citizens and organizations in the Solomon Islands”, according to details released by China. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He said China does not want to establish military bases there.
“China supports the Pacific island nations to strengthen security cooperation and work together to address regional security challenges,” he said.
At a meeting in Fiji next week, Wang will seek a clear agreement on security and trade with the 10 island states that has further embarrassed the United States and its Pacific allies.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a global security initiative in a speech at the Boao Asia Forum in April, for which Beijing sought support in meetings with its diplomatic allies.
Gabriel Vicenten, the European Union’s special envoy for Indo-Pacific, told ABC Radio on Friday that China wants a region-wide agreement with a security component that is a clear sign of Beijing “tightening ties” with Pacific nations, and that the European Union is expanding into the Pacific. .
Wang arrived in the small island nation of Kiribati on Friday, where he will spend four hours as part of a tour of the region’s unprecedented eight countries.
Wang welcomed his Fijian counterpart in a traditional ceremony on Friday morning and will later meet with Prime Minister Frank Benimarama to discuss climate change policy and the expansion of Australia’s visa program to allow Pacific workers to bring their families to Australia.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)