China has shelved plans for a controversial Pacific deal. What happens now?

China’s foreign minister is on the final stretch of his whirlwind tour of the Pacific, but he’s failed to achieve one key goal.
While in Fiji on Monday, Wang Yi hosted a video meeting with foreign ministers from 10 Pacific island nations and encouraged them to sign up for Beiing’s “Common Development Vision” — a sweeping .
Of particular concern among Australia, the United States and allies were the proposed stronger policing and security ties — which apparently resembled how Beijing officials described China’s , which they said was based on maintaining social order and safeguarding national security.

But the agreement has been put on ice. So what happened, and what could develop?


What was China proposing?

Last week, news agency Reuters revealed Beijing had sent a draft communique and five-year action plan to 10 Pacific island countries — Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Niue and Federated States of Micronesia — ahead of Mr Wang’s tour.
It reportedly stated that China and the Pacific islands will “strengthen exchanges and cooperation in the fields of traditional and non-traditional security”.

“China will hold intermediate and high-level police training for Pacific Island Countries through bilateral and multilateral means,” the document reportedly said.

The action plan outlined a ministerial dialogue on law enforcement capacity and police cooperation to be held in 2022, and China providing forensic police laboratories.
The draft communique also pledges cooperation on data networks, cyber security, smart customs systems, and for Pacific islands to “take a balanced approach to technological progress, economic development and protection of national security”.

The communique also proposed a China-Pacific Islands Free Trade Area, and support for action on climate change and health.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) and Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama (right) speak at joint press conference

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) and Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama (right) speak at joint press conference at the Pacific Islands Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Suva, Fiji, 30 May 2022. Credit: HOGP/AP

What happened?

China with the 10 nations.
Following Monday’s meeting, Mr Wang said further discussions were needed.
“China will release its own position paper on our own positions and propositions and cooperation proposals with Pacific island countries, and going forward we will continue to have ongoing and in-depth discussions and consultations to shape more consensus on cooperation,” Mr Wang told reporters in Fiji.
Fiji and Samoa both said they did not have enough time to consider the proposal.

“We have not made a decision as we did not have enough time to look at it,” said Samoan prime minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, according to local media.


She said the proposal, as well as the China-Solomon Islands security pact, should be discussed at the Pacific Island Forum, which also includes members that recognise Taiwan and not Beijing.
“It’s important that we have the chance to consult and have a combined voice on the region’s position in order to have an impact,” local media quoted her as saying.

The next Pacific Island Forum meeting is set to be held in July, and Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese has said he will attend.

Fijian leader Frank Bainimarama said the Pacific was “putting consensus first” while reminding reporters of the most important issue facing the region.
“Geopolitical point-scoring means less than little to anyone whose community is slipping beneath the rising seas, whose job is being lost to the pandemic or whose family is impacted by the rapid rise in the price of commodities,” he said.

Premier of Niue, Dalton Tagelagi, also said his country needed more time to consider the proposal.

“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,” Mr Tagelagi said in a statement.
David Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, warned Pacific leaders that he wouldn’t back the plan, saying it threatened “to bring a new Cold War era”.
Dr Anna Powles, a senior lecturer in international security at New Zeland’s Massey University, told SBS News the pause showed Beijing had “overplayed its hand”
“What this shows is that there are limitations on Beijing’s diplomatic efforts in the Pacific,” Dr Powles said.

“It is surprising that given how long China has been involved in the regions… that they haven’t clearly understood that consensus building is critical to achieving anything in the region.”


What happens now?

It appears that China will continue to pursue a region-wide deal, although not necessarily in the same form.
China has since released the flagged by Mr Wang, which says Beijing is “committed to deepening its comprehensive strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development with Pacific island countries” to build closer relations.
But it does not mention free trade, joint policy efforts and cybersecurity measures.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said discussions “in order to build more consensus” were continuing.

So what has China achieved?

Mr Wang’s tour wasn’t without its successes.
He inked a deal with Samoa to strengthen diplomatic relations, including the signing of an “economic and technical cooperation agreement”.
“Samoa and the People’s Republic of China will continue to pursue greater collaboration that will deliver on joint interests and commitments,” Samoa said in a statement.
Samoa was also among a number of countries, including Kiribati and Niue, that signed up for greater co-operation on China’s Belt and Road initiative — the nation’s trillion-dollar global infrastructure project.

With Reuters

Source link

Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.