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China Secures More Deals in South Pacific as Australia Warns of Security Pact's 'Consequences'

© Sputnik / Russian Foreign MinistryChinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi talks to the media
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi talks to the media - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.05.2022
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi embarked on an eight-nation tour this week aiming to boost his country’s growing economic and security ties in the South Pacific — a region dominated by Australia and the US. Beijing has asked the US to stay out of sovereign decisions made by Pacific island nations.
China secured over a dozen agreements with the Solomon Islands and Kiribati during the first two days of the week-long tour undertaken by Foreign Minister Wang Yi from Thursday onward.
Besides agreements aimed at increasing China's economic presence in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, Wang hopes the visit to these countries cemented the "bilateral political foundation" in the region.
Meanwhile, Wang's visit to South Pacific nations has come under immense scrutiny by the West amid a leaked report suggesting that China plans an umbrella security pact with 10 countries.
The US State Department on Thursday warned that a proposed agreement on policing, security, and data communication could “fuel regional and international tensions”.
In response, the Chinese Foreign Minister on Friday said that Beijing's cooperation with the Pacific island countries "does not target any country and it should not be disrupted by any country".

"It is never China's foreign policy, nor is it Chinese style, to impose business deals on others, interfere in Solomon Islands' internal affairs, or damage other countries' interests", Wang Yi stated.

Beijing has yet to release information about the agreements that it signed with the Solomon Islands. However, on its part, the Pacific nation said that the two countries signed agreements related to blue economy, tariff preferences, civil aviation, and disaster prevention and mitigation.
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"China has become Solomon Islands' major infrastructure partner. China remains Solomon Islands' major trading partner", a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office of the Solomon Islands reads.
China will also reconstruct Honiara and expedite the construction projects of a stadium and medical centres in the South Pacific nation.
Kiribati, which like the Solomon Islands also switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China in 2019, signed 10 MoUs on development cooperation on Friday. However, defying speculation, the deals do not include any security agreement.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang is scheduled to visit Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Timor-Leste in the next few days. He will host the second China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Fiji on 30 June.
On Friday, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who delinked her visit to Fiji from Wang's eight-nation tour, warned the Pacific nations of the potential consequences of having a security pact with China.

"We have expressed our concerns publicly about the security agreement between the Solomon Islands and China and the reason why is because we have, as do other Pacific nations, we think there are consequences", Wong stated in Fiji.

The newly-appointed foreign minister stressed that Australia's Labor government is eager to listen to the concerns of Pacific nations, particularly on climate change.
"It is for Pacific nations to make their own decisions about who they want to partner with and in which areas, and we respect that", the Australian foreign minister added.
Australia has bilateral agreements with several Pacific countries that allow it to deploy forces during emergencies at the request of the island nations.
The Chinese foreign minister has asserted that any attack on the China-Solomon Islands' normal security cooperation "will be a dead end and any interference and sabotage will be doomed to failure".
Last month, China and the Solomon Islands signed a security pact that aroused suspicion among the US and its allies, particularly Australia. They have expressed concern about the deal, saying it has the "potential to undermine stability in our region".
In Honiara, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang expounded on three principles for China and the Solomon Islands to promote security cooperation. He said that the framework agreement on security cooperation aims to assist the Solomon Islands in improving its policing and law enforcement capabilities.
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