China is seeking a region-wide deal with almost a dozen Pacific island nations covering policing, security and data communications cooperation when Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) hosts a meeting in Fiji next week, documents seen by Reuters showed, while an Australian official is due in Suva today.
A draft communique and five-year action plan sent by Beijing to 10 Pacific islands ahead of a foreign ministers meeting on Monday next week has prompted pushback from at least one of the invited nations, which says it showed China’s intent to control the region and “threatens regional stability.”
In a letter to 21 Pacific leaders, Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo said that his nation would argue the “predetermined joint communique” should be rejected, because he fears it could spark a new “cold war” between China and the West.
Wang is to visit eight Pacific island nations that China holds diplomatic ties with from today until Saturday next week.
He is to arrive today in the Solomon Islands.
The China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision draft document, as well as a five-year action plan, has been circulated by Beijing ahead of the meeting in Fiji.
It says that China and the Pacific islands are to “strengthen exchanges and cooperation in the fields of traditional and nontraditional security.”
“China will hold intermediate and high-level police training for Pacific island countries through bilateral and multilateral means,” the document says.
The action plan outlines a ministerial dialogue on law enforcement capacity and police cooperation to be held this year, and China providing forensic police laboratories.
The draft communique also pledges cooperation on data networks, cybersecurity, 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 proposes a China-Pacific islands free-trade area, and support for action on climate change and health.
In his letter to other leaders, Panuelo said that the communique would shift Pacific islands who hold diplomatic relations with China “very close into Beijing’s orbit, intrinsically tying the whole of our economies and societies to them.”
Panuelo highlighted the risk of Pacific islands being caught in geopolitical conflict as tensions rise between the US and China over Taiwan.
“The practical impacts, however, of Chinese control over our communications infrastructure, our ocean territory and the resources within them, and our security space, aside from impacts on our sovereignty, is that it increases the chances of China getting into conflict with Australia, Japan, the United States and New Zealand,” he said.
Meanwhile, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) is to arrive in Fiji today after the new government in Canberra put deeper ties with the Pacific at the top of its agenda.
Wong said that the trip in her first week on the job “demonstrates the importance we place on our relationship with Fiji and on our Pacific engagement.”
“I look forward to sharing our ideas on how we seek to bring together Australia’s defence, strategic, diplomatic and economic capabilities to support our region’s priorities,” she said.
In New York, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that her nation welcomes more investment in the Pacific region, but does not support increased militarization.
“We want cooperation in areas where we have shared concern, like climate adaptation and mitigation,” Ardern told reporters. “We want quality investment in infrastructure. We don’t want militarization. We don’t want an escalation in tension. We want peace and stability.”
Additional reporting by AFP and Bloomberg
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
GUT FEELING: In the leaked memo, US Air Force General Mike Minihan urged mobile command personnel to go to a firing range, shoot at a target and ‘aim for the head’ A four-star US Air Force general has warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025 — most likely over Taiwan — and urged his commanders to push their units to achieve maximum operational battle readiness this year. In an internal memorandum that first emerged on social media on Friday, and was later confirmed as genuine by the Pentagon, Air Mobility Command Commander General Mike Minihan said that the main goal should be to deter “and, if required, defeat” China. “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” Minihan said. Minihan said that Taiwan’s presidential election
PEACE AND STABILITY: The two nations called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Taiwan Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of force or coercion The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked France and Australia for voicing their support for Taiwan, saying that peace across the Taiwan Strait is crucial to the stability and prosperity of international society. France and Australia on Monday pledged to deepen ties with Taiwan and reiterated their support for its participation in international organizations at this year’s Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations in Paris. The meeting between French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) and Australian Minister for Defence Richard Marles was the second
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would