China’s attempt to play spy games at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting were thwarted and its alleged spies kicked out of the meeting venue.
The two Chinese nationals were identified by a journalist as being Chinese Embassy officials and alerted the authorities.
They turned up without credentials while United States Vice President Kamala Harris was speaking about US engagement with the Pacific.
The two men took position amongst the media in the session that was limited to the media, Pacific leaders and key government officials.
After being identified by a local journalist who had encounters with the two earlier, police escorted the men outside as they were not invited.
It is believed one of the Chinese officials was a defense attaché while the other his deputy.
This is not the first time China has found themselves in trouble at the Forum leaders meeting. A Chinese official was kicked out of Nauru during the 2018 PIF meeting for trying to disturb a Pacific leader while he was speaking.
The official was at the meeting as a dialogue partner. This led to a row between China and Nauru.
Then Nauruan president Baron Waqa had called this act as bullying because China being a bigger nation had thought fit to interrupt the Tuvaluan prime minister. Mr Waqa had said the Chinese official may have felt he could bully members as a representative of a big country.
No comments have been forthcoming from the Chinese Embassy in Suva as to why the two men were in a meeting not intended for them.
It seems China was concerned about what the US was going to offer to the Pacific. This also gives rise to more speculation about China’s hand in the Kiribati affair.
Former Kiribati president Anote Tong has told regional media that he suspects his successor was trying to strike a deal with China.