Pacific Security Agreement: China plays to influence Wang Yi’s visit

The draft proposal, sent to potential South Pacific partners, calls for greater cooperation in other areas, including security, policing and cyber security, and economic development.

The draft proposal, provided to CNN by a person with direct knowledge of the subject and first reported by Reuters, will be discussed at a meeting of foreign ministers of the second China-Pacific island nation in Fiji next week – part of a 10. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s Regional Diplomatic Visit

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wang’s visit began on Thursday in the Solomon Islands and would take the minister to Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

The draft proposal outlining the “Common Development Vision” and the “Five Year Action Plan” echoes a bilateral security agreement signed between China and the Solomon Islands last month and could mark a significant step forward in Beijing’s influence in the region – but it could be regional. It is not clear whether.

Already at least one country where the agreement was directed has raised concerns, and there has been widespread reaction from other regional powers who are wary of China’s intentions.

In a letter to 22 other Pacific leaders seen by CNN, David Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, said the draft resolution was intended to move the Pacific to establish diplomatic relations with China “very close to Beijing’s orbit.”

Panuelo argued that in addition to affecting the sovereignty of the Pacific powers, signing such an agreement between China and the West could lead to a new “cold war”.

The draft proposal has sparked outrage in Australia, with new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – who criticized his predecessor’s failure to avoid a deal with China on the Solomon Islands – saying on Thursday that his country was “unable” to “drop the ball”. Its response.

“It seeks to increase China’s influence in areas of the world where Australia has been the preferred security partner since World War II,” he said, adding that Canberra needed more support.

Last month, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manseh Sogavar assured that Honiara’s agreement with Beijing would be “complementary” to existing security agreements with Australia and would “not adversely affect or undermine peace and harmony in our region.” Solomon is about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) off the northeast coast of Australia.

Nonetheless, as a sign of the Albanian government’s concern over Chinese expansion in the region, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong visited Fiji on Thursday, where – in a speech where China’s name was not directly mentioned – he referred to Australia as “a partner”. No, or an unstable financial burden. ”

“We are a partner that will not undermine the Pacific priority or the Pacific institution. We believe in transparency. We believe in true partnership,” Wong said.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday that she “firmly believes that we have the means and the ability to address any security challenges that exist in the Pacific.”

Beijing has not confirmed that it is seeking a multilateral agreement in the region.

The purpose of Wang’s visit was to “strengthen high-level exchanges, consolidate political mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, and deepen people-to-people contacts to build closer communities with a shared future for China and the Pacific island nations.” Do “. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Asked about fears that a security pact with the Pacific Islands could spark a Cold War, the spokesman retreated, calling it a “shocking remark.”

In Washington on Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was “aware that China wants to discuss various measures during the foreign minister’s visit to the region.”

“We are concerned that these reported agreements may be negotiated in a speedy, non-transparent process,” he said, describing Beijing as a pattern of providing “shady, unambiguous agreements” where the United States respects the powers of countries. To make their own sovereign decision.

The proposed draft security agreement and Wang’s visit come amid heightened concerns among other regional powers over Beijing’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region.

China claims almost all of the vast South China Sea as its sovereign territory. It is building and militarizing its facilities there, turning the islands into military bases and air strips, and allegedly creating a naval militia that could number hundreds of ships.

And in the East China Sea, China claims sovereignty over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, also known as Diaoyu Island. In recent years, the United States has reaffirmed its commitment to protect the islands in the event of foreign aggression.

In a joint statement Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed “concern” over China’s security agreement with the Solomon Islands and the lack of a “voice of regional concern.”

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