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Pacific News Minute: China fails to reach security and trade deal with Pacific Island nations

Pacific Islands China President of Fiji, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, left, watches as the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi signs the visitors book at the State House in Suva, Fiji
HOGP/AP
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Fijian Government
In this photo supplied by the Fiji government, the President of Fiji, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, left, watches as the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi signs the visitors book at the State House in Suva, Fiji, Monday, May 30, 2022. Wang and a 20-strong delegation are in Fiji as part of a Pacific Islands tour that comes amid growing concerns about Beijing's military and financial ambitions in the South Pacific region. (Fiji Government via AP)

China has failed in its attempt to reach a security and trade deal with Pacific Island nations at a meeting in Fiji. But even though this proposal fell short, it contains elements that remain relevant to the region.

The multilateral proposal, first reported by Reuters, also covers policing, cybersecurity, maritime surveillance, fishing rights and the creation of a free-trade area.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in the middle of a trip to eight Pacific Island nations that have diplomatic ties with China.

Besides Fiji, he and his delegation will visit Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor.

Wang started his trip in the Solomon Islands, a country that recently signed its own security deal with China.

Australia, the United States, Japan and New Zealand have voiced their objections to the deal. They fear it could upset regional security and give China a military foothold in the Pacific.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. was aware of Wang's plans and was "concerned that these reported agreements may be negotiated in a rushed, non-transparent process."

The draft document states that China and the Pacific islands will "strengthen exchanges and cooperation in the fields of traditional and non-traditional security."

Price says Washington respected the ability of regional countries to make sovereign decisions in the best interests of their people.

Derrick Malama is the local anchor of Morning Edition.
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