July 7, 2022

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Why China’s interest in the South Pacific islands like Fiji and Samoa has raised concerns in Australia and the United States

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Samoan Prime Minister Phim Naomi Madaba and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been on an official visit to eight countries in the South Pacific since Thursday. The 10-day trip, which runs from May 26 to June 4, will cover the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

These are small island nations in the South Pacific that are of strategic importance to China. These countries have access to the South Pacific Ocean and are capable of protecting major sea lanes.

For decades, experts have believed that these small countries in the region have been at the forefront of the ecosystem here. To protect They have been and have been dependent on it to spend their lives. But some of the world’s major powers want to establish their hegemony in the region and are engaged in the struggle for it. China is on one side and Australia and the United States on the other.

As part of the initiative, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is reportedly visiting the region and holding talks with those countries on investment, security deals and infrastructure construction.

China says the purpose of the visit is to deepen ties with these countries. But Australia and the United States have accused China of showing strength and trying to increase its dominance in the region.

In Samoa he met with Prime Minister Phim Naomi Matafa. Meanwhile, China has signed bilateral trade and security agreements with Samoa.

After Samoa, Wang Yi left for Fiji on Saturday afternoon.

But tensions in the region have been clear since Australia asked its new foreign minister, Benny Wong, to strengthen its position with China on Friday. Sent to Fiji Was.

The day before, it was reported that Fiji was in the newly created Indo-Pacific economic framework. Involved Going on. Financial times Fiji will be the 14th and first South Pacific island in the Indo-Pacific economic structure, according to a report.

Currently, there are 13 countries in the Indo-Pacific economic structure. This includes the United States, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The United States made the announcement shortly before Chinese Foreign Minister Fiji arrived. According to the Financial Times, China and the United States continue to strengthen their influence in Fiji.

“The IPEF now includes representatives from Northeast, Southeast Asia, Oceania and the Pacific Islands.

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

What’s wrong with Australia?

Michael Bristow, the BBC’s Asia-Pacific regional editor, says China signed a similar agreement with the Solomon Islands last month. These include some important security agreements, including trade and fishing.

He says the United States and Australia are monitoring Wang Yi’s ten-day voyage, fearing that China could lay the groundwork for an increase in its military presence in the South Pacific and help it in the region. You can. Strengthen your range.

Another reason why these agreements are of concern to Australia and the United States is that the area is less than two thousand kilometers from Australia.

However, China has said that efforts to improve its relations with the Pacific will not pose a threat to any other country.

In March this year, Alan Jingle, a professor at the Australian Institute for International Affairs, told BBC correspondent Francis Mao that details of the deal were not yet fully known, but that if it was less than a viable military base, it would be China’s first. Pacific. Going up. “

Australia and the United States have warned these tiny countries in the Pacific Ocean about a deal with China.

News Agency Associated Press Report This would allow China to gain a foothold in the Pacific, not far from the cities of Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Guam, even if the deal with the Solomon Islands is partially terminated.

Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said China is seeking to expand its influence in the region, which has been Australia’s first defense partner since World War II.

The Solomon Islands and Australia have long been closely related. Since World War II, Australia has been financing and protecting the South Pacific.

Australia says China is interfering in Solomon’s internal politics. China has also been increasing credit and economic investment here for a long time. With this in mind Australia attacked Solomon again. Pay attention Began to do it.

Image source, HChineseEmb_FJ

What is America’s strategy?

The United States closed its five-year embassy in the Solomon Islands in 1993. Since then, US diplomats have been carrying out diplomatic missions from neighboring Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands.

The United States took the step a few months ago in the wake of violent unrest in the capital, the Solomon Islands, over anti-China sentiment.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blingen has also visited the Solomon Islands. He is the first US Secretary of State to visit in four decades. His visit comes after a strategic review of the Joe Biden government for the Pacific. It was decided to send more diplomatic and security resources to curb the growing activities in this part of China.

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The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Chowdhury, with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on October 9, 2019.

The idea of ​​how important the Pacific region is to Australia and the United States is reflected in Biden’s speech in Maryland, USA on Friday.

Speaking to students at the U.S. Naval Academy here, Joe Biden said, “The maritime freedom of the South China Sea and beyond must be guaranteed, for which the sea lanes must be free. The United States is at the heart of the world economy. Help its friends in Europe and the Indo-Pacific.”

One of the names of the White House is the Indo-Pacific strategy In the statement “In a rapidly changing landscape, we hope that strengthening the Indo-Pacific region, along with our closest allies and friends, will only serve US interests.”