Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi clash in the Pacific over security pact expansion fears

“Australia will listen to our Pacific partners as we work together to address our common challenges and achieve our common goals – including the fight against climate change, pandemic recovery, economic development and regional security,” he said. she said Wednesday.

“After a lost decade, we have a lot of work to do to regain Australia’s position as a partner of choice in the Pacific, in a less secure and more contested region, but that work starts now.”

The Chinese foreign minister will arrive in the Solomon Islands on Thursday for the first time since signing the agreement with Honiara. The Solomons are the first leg of his marathon tour, which also includes East Timor, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele (left) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Credit:Access point pool

Beijing’s new peaceful agenda, which is already facing resistance from some countries including Micronesia, is expected to be debated at a meeting of foreign ministers in Fiji on May 30.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the draft China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision Document proposed “mid-level and high-level police training for Pacific Island countries” and collaboration on data networks and of cybersecurity.

Wong faces a diplomatic test to try to convince more Pacific island nations not to side with Beijing in exchange for security guarantees after years of political strife and economic turmoil exacerbated by COVID-19.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said in April that he found it “very insulting to be called unfit to manage our sovereign affairs or to have other motives in pursuit of our national interest”.

East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta said The Sydney Morning Herald and age Monday that “it would be a total mistake not to have good relations with China”.

On Tuesday, Wang told regional leaders at a UN forum that Asia-Pacific cooperation “should not be disrupted” and that the region was where “China lives and prospers”.

“We must adhere to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and not seek our own security at the expense of the security of others,” he said.

Beijing has been criticized by the United States, Japan, India and Australia for using economic deals to lay the groundwork for a military presence in the region.

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On Wednesday, Quad leaders said in a joint statement that the four countries “strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral action aimed at altering the status quo and increasing tensions in the region.”

Wang also faced allegations of excessive secrecy over his trip, with no firm itinerary dates and no restrictions on which reporters were allowed to attend Wang’s first press conference in Honiara. China’s top diplomat will answer just one question from Chinese state television during his stay in the capital of the Solomons.

On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin did not give details of the trip.

“This visit by Foreign Minister Wang Yi will further enhance political mutual trust between China and these countries,” he said.

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