Two Chinese defense attaches have been kicked out by Fijian police from a Pacific Islands Forum meeting at which US Vice President Kamala Harris was giving a virtual address.
The men were sitting in on a session of the forum’s fisheries agency at which Harris announced the step-up of US engagement in the region, believed to be in response to China’s growing influence.
They were sitting with the media contingent, but one was identified as a Chinese embassy official by Lice Movono, a Fijian journalist who is covering the forum.
Movono said she “recognized him because I’ve interacted with him at least three times already,” including during the visit of Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) to Suva last month, at which journalists were removed from events and blocked from asking questions.
“He was one of the people that was removing us from places and directing other people to remove us,” she said. “So I went over to him and asked: ‘Are you here as a Chinese embassy official or for Xinhua [news agency], because this is the media space. And he shook his head as if to indicate that he didn’t speak English.”
Movono alerted Fijian protocol officers, who told her to inform Fijian police, who then escorted the two men from the room.
They did not answer questions from media.
Diplomatic sources later confirmed that the men were a defense attache and a deputy defense attache from China, and part of the embassy in Fiji.
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