Pacific nations have put their foot down on what they want from China and what they will give in return.
The Pacific nations have called for more commitment from China towards climate change, a goal that China says it will be able to achieve after 2060.
This has led to China shelving its Pacific regional agreement which kick started a whirlwind tour of the Pacific by its Foreign Minister Wang Yi, with the aim of visiting ten nations in eight days.
So far he has visited Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji. Each of these nations have been transparent on what deal they had signed with China.
Much of it has to do with aid and infrastructure investment and not deals to set up military base. On Monday, Mr Wang held a virtual summit with the Pacific leaders offering the deal which was rejected and Pacific nations making it clear that climate change and post COVID economic recovery was their focus.
The China deal would allow them to train local police, become involved in cybersecurity, expand political ties, conduct sensitive marine mapping and gain greater access to natural resources on land and in the water.
In return, Beijing has offered millions of dollars in financial assistance, a draft free trade agreement and access to China’s vast market of 1.4 billion people.
The President of Palau Surangel Whipps Jr told ABC Radio that China’s Ambassador confirmed China will shelve its proposal for a Pacific regional agreement.
He said Pacific leaders shared concerns of the potential for another “World War II” and didn’t “want to be put in a situation like that again”.
“We want to have peace and security in the region, and we don’t want to go through what we went through in World War II, so when we see these kinds of activities it does raise a concern for us,” he said.
“We’re small countries, and we want to live in a free and open Indo-Pacific where there is a respect for rule of law.
“I thank the other fellow Pacific Island leaders for standing up and doing what they feel is right, most importantly for their people.”
Fiji puts climate change first
Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama stated he had an excellent discussion with Minister Wang Yi, on strengthening their partnership to take on the greatest threats faced in the Pacific.
“Our meeting was guided by mutual respect and the common interest of our people’s continued socio-economic progress,” he said.
“We have a solid foundation on which to build; Fiji’s friendship with China has helped develop infrastructure, train our people, and deliver essential medical supplies which accelerated our post-pandemic recovery.
“As I have done with every Leader I meet, I sought a stronger commitment from China on climate action. As a global community, we remain woefully short of cutting emissions in line with the 1.5-degree Celsius target of the Paris Agreement –– and I will continue to push for a phase-out of coal and other fossil fuels by all economies as quickly and practically as possible.”
Mr Bainimarama said they also discussed the importance of combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, opportunities to expand sustainable ocean management in the Pacific, and ways to help Fijian exporters land more of their high quality products and produce in the Chinese market.
“As we build back better and stronger, Fiji will continue to seek fertile ground for our bilateral relationships. The challenges our people face will only intensify until collective solutions rise to meet them,” he said.