China has shelved its plans to sign a region-wide trade and security deal with Pacific Island nations.
The decision comes following a high-level meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and leaders from 10 Pacific Island nations in Fiji yesterday.
Wang, who spent the past week meeting with his Pacific Island counterparts, said the nations had agreed on five areas of cooperation, but further discussions were needed.
“China will release its own position paper on our own positions and propositions and cooperation proposals with Pacific Island countries,” Wang said.
“Going forward, we will continue to have ongoing and in-depth discussions and consultations to shape more consensus on cooperation.
“Don’t be too anxious and don’t be too nervous, because the common development and prosperity of China and all the other developing countries will only mean great harmony, greater justice and greater progress of the whole world.”
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said there remained a “consensus first” approach to regional agreements.
“As always, we put consensus first among our countries throughout any discussion on new regional agreements,” Bainimarama said at a press conference with Wang.
“Fiji will continue to seek fertile ground for our bilateral relationship. The challenges our people face will only intensify until collective solutions rise to meet them.
“And I am grateful to the minister and his team for bringing the spirit of productive cooperation with them to Fiji.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi touched down in the Solomon Islands last Thursday in an attempt to solidify Beijing’s presence in the Pacific region.
A draft communique and a five-year action plan was sent to 10 Pacific Island nations covering policing, security, trade, marine and data communication.
China’s Ambassador to Fiji, Qian Bo, said while there had been general support from the countries, the agreement had been shelved after some countries voiced concerns.
“There has been general support from the 10 countries with which we have diplomatic relations, but of course there are some concerns on specific issues.”