Strong words have been uttered and a hint given that Pacific nations are making a united stand in the geopolitical tug of war between China and the United States.
Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown has called on Pacific leaders and its people to have a united stand in the Pacific.
He made the comments as he officially opened the Cook Islands’ High Commission in Suva, Fiji on Monday night.
“We have been told by many outsiders that the Pacific region is a hotbed for geopolitical competition. That the fate of the Pacific region is under threat,” said Mr Brown.
“And that we are but pawns in the grand game of international geopolitics and global economy. Well, I disagree with these views and our history tells us otherwise.”
This was Mr Brown’s first visit to Fiji after the borders had opened and his first as prime minister. He made reference to colonists and how the Pacific diplomacy was present even before the Pacific was ‘discovered.’
“Our relationship with Fiji existed before a lion on a foreigner’s mat determined our boundaries. Our ties celebrate common history, culture, kinship, trade, politics and our shared stewardship of our great Moana Nui O Kiva,” he said.
“The ties that have always bound our two countries will always stand the test of time. The most significant of these our people.”
Mr Brown said Fiji’s ability to be the regional hub for commerce, trade, education, diplomacy and home to many regional and international multilateral organisations, made it an ideal location to have a diplomatic mission.
“The unfailing belief of our founding fathers in the ability of Pacific people to chart the Pacific way, navigate out collective and separate voyages to statehood and draw strength from each other to ensure security and prosperity of our people, it is as powerful today as it was five decades ago,” he said.
It was in 2018 when the Henry Puna government announced the establishment of a diplomatic mission in Fiji.
The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum was on at hand to see this become a reality.
Mr Puna said this was a proud moment.
Prime Minister of Fiji Voreqe Bainimarama said a more connected Pacific was a more secure Pacific.
“No one understands better than our challenges than our Pacific family. We are seafaring people and we will go to any lengths to protect our oceans,” he said.