China’s foreign minister Wang Yi will touchdown in Fiji for a two-day visit today. The visit is part of Wang’s
China’s foreign minister Wang Yi will touchdown in Fiji for a two-day visit today.
The visit is part of Wang’s eight-nation tour of Pacific Island countries presenting Beijing’s sweeping new economic and security proposal for the Pacific and comes weeks after a security agreement was confirmed with the Solomon Islands. The proposals include the training and deployment of Chinese police upon request, free trade deals, fisheries agreements and infrastructure investment.
At issue is the secrecy around the security element of these deals. Despite denials from Beijing and Honiara, the leaked draft Solomon Islands agreement showed broad commitments which leave open the possibility of China building a naval base on the islands. The implications of an increased Chinese military presence in the Pacific are alarming Australia, New Zealand and the US and are viewed as a direct security threat to Australia especially.
China is likely to ink most economic agreements but the extent of Pacific buy-in for the security proposals is uncertain. Expect intense Australian and New Zealand lobbying of fellow Pacific Island Forum (PIF) member-nations ahead of the upcoming PIF leaders’ meeting in July. In the pipeline is a rival Australasian economic and security plan for the Pacific at a forum where China is excluded from regional decision-making.
Download the Daily Brief app to stay ahead of geopolitics with daily, short, forward-looking analysis of geopolitical events before they hit the headlines.