Beijing Vows ‘Greater Effort’ to Lock In Sweeping Regional Deal

Beijing will continue to push Pacific nations to sign onto a sweeping regional security, and economy deal after a May 30 conference saw the Chinese regime’s original proposal fall flat.According to the Chinese state-owned Xinhua, Wang Yi, the regime’s foreign minister, said Beijing would continue to “make greater efforts to advance the comprehensive strategic partnership” with Pacific island nations in the long term. In the meantime, the Chinese Communist Party and leaders from 10 Pacific nations did pledge cooperation in a range of areas, including infrastructure, maritime industries, pandemic response, and climate change. Last week, details of the China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision emerged—a comprehensive regional deal across 10 Pacific nations (with existing ties to Beijing) covering free trade, fisheries, and sensitive areas such as security, cyber, and maritime mapping. The move was a significant step forward for the Chinese Communist Party’s ambitions in the region, with foreign policy expert John Lee, saying Beijing likely overplayed its hand and exposed its partners in the Pacific to international pressure. “[Chinese Foreign Minister] Wang will return home with a handful of signatures. But Beijing will have overplayed its hand by abandoning its previous patient approach and creating the conditions for plausible deniability of its real objectives,” he wrote in the Australian Financial Review on May 30. “Pacific leaders will have to explain to angry and anxious populations why they are prepared to conclude agreements with irreversible strategic and security consequences.” On May 30, the agreement had to be shelved following a lack of consensus between Pacific leaders. In fact, the proposed deal has alarmed some leaders, with David Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, earlier writing to 21 fellow heads of state warning that the pact could trigger a new “Cold War.” “The practical impacts, however, of Chinese control over our communications infrastructure, our ocean territory and the resources within them, and our security space, aside from impacts on our sovereignty, is that it increases the chances of China getting into conflict with Australia, Japan, the United States, and New Zealand,” he wrote. If you read one thing about #WangYi‘s Pacific tour, make it @POTFSM letter to other Pacific leaders about the ‘vision’ and ‘five year plan’ documents China wants signed. “[This is] the single-most game-changing proposed agreement in the Pacific in any of our lifetimes.” 1/2 pic.twitter.com/akoHRvcDan — Cleo Paskal (@CleoPaskal) May 27, 2022 The president of Palau, Surangel Whipps Jr., also called on fellow Pacific leaders to learn from past experience. “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,” Whipps told Pacific Beat media on May 30. While the major regional deal didn’t go ahead, the Chinese foreign minister managed to gain further commitments from the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, and Fiji governments to tighten cooperation. On May 26, Wang and the Solomon Islands foreign minister said in a statement that all agreements signed between the governments had been “effectively implemented” while pledging to work together on Belt and Road Initiative projects, agriculture, fisheries, and other areas. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has been criticized for signing a security deal with the Chinese Communist Party that could pave the way for Beijing to station troops, weapons, and naval ships in the region—opening the door for the eventual militarization of the South Pacific. The island of Guadalcanal was the site of extensive fighting during World War II between Allied Forces and Imperial Japan because of its strategic position and influence over surrounding sea lanes. On May 27, Wang met with Kiribati Vice President Teuea Toatu and managed to secure a commitment to deepen ties. Kiribati’s ambassador to China, David Teaabo, said the leaders were to sign up to 10 memoranda of understanding, according to the Chinese state-owned media outlet, The Global Times. Concerns have been raised that Beijing could fund and upgrade a World War II-era airstrip in Kiribati that could also be another strategic foothold. Read MoreBeijing Forced to Shelve Sweeping Pacific Security Deal Follow Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected]

Beijing Vows ‘Greater Effort’ to Lock In Sweeping Regional Deal

Beijing will continue to push Pacific nations to sign onto a sweeping regional security, and economy deal after a May 30 conference saw the Chinese regime’s original proposal fall flat.

According to the Chinese state-owned Xinhua, Wang Yi, the regime’s foreign minister, said Beijing would continue to “make greater efforts to advance the comprehensive strategic partnership” with Pacific island nations in the long term.

In the meantime, the Chinese Communist Party and leaders from 10 Pacific nations did pledge cooperation in a range of areas, including infrastructure, maritime industries, pandemic response, and climate change.

Last week, details of the China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision emerged—a comprehensive regional deal across 10 Pacific nations (with existing ties to Beijing) covering free trade, fisheries, and sensitive areas such as security, cyber, and maritime mapping.

The move was a significant step forward for the Chinese Communist Party’s ambitions in the region, with foreign policy expert John Lee, saying Beijing likely overplayed its hand and exposed its partners in the Pacific to international pressure.

“[Chinese Foreign Minister] Wang will return home with a handful of signatures. But Beijing will have overplayed its hand by abandoning its previous patient approach and creating the conditions for plausible deniability of its real objectives,” he wrote in the Australian Financial Review on May 30.

“Pacific leaders will have to explain to angry and anxious populations why they are prepared to conclude agreements with irreversible strategic and security consequences.”

On May 30, the agreement had to be shelved following a lack of consensus between Pacific leaders.

In fact, the proposed deal has alarmed some leaders, with David Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, earlier writing to 21 fellow heads of state warning that the pact could trigger a new “Cold War.”

“The practical impacts, however, of Chinese control over our communications infrastructure, our ocean territory and the resources within them, and our security space, aside from impacts on our sovereignty, is that it increases the chances of China getting into conflict with Australia, Japan, the United States, and New Zealand,” he wrote.

The president of Palau, Surangel Whipps Jr., also called on fellow Pacific leaders to learn from past experience.

“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,” Whipps told Pacific Beat media on May 30.

While the major regional deal didn’t go ahead, the Chinese foreign minister managed to gain further commitments from the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, and Fiji governments to tighten cooperation.

On May 26, Wang and the Solomon Islands foreign minister said in a statement that all agreements signed between the governments had been “effectively implemented” while pledging to work together on Belt and Road Initiative projects, agriculture, fisheries, and other areas.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has been criticized for signing a security deal with the Chinese Communist Party that could pave the way for Beijing to station troops, weapons, and naval ships in the region—opening the door for the eventual militarization of the South Pacific.

The island of Guadalcanal was the site of extensive fighting during World War II between Allied Forces and Imperial Japan because of its strategic position and influence over surrounding sea lanes.

On May 27, Wang met with Kiribati Vice President Teuea Toatu and managed to secure a commitment to deepen ties. Kiribati’s ambassador to China, David Teaabo, said the leaders were to sign up to 10 memoranda of understanding, according to the Chinese state-owned media outlet, The Global Times.

Concerns have been raised that Beijing could fund and upgrade a World War II-era airstrip in Kiribati that could also be another strategic foothold.


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Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected]