Australia and US move to support Pacific aid after China’s overtures
Australia and US move to support Pacific aid after China’s overtures

Australia and US move to support Pacific aid after China’s overtures

Australia and the United States are stepping up their support in the Pacific Islands after China proposed a security and economic framework that could strengthen the country’s presence in the region.

The draft China-Pacific Islands Common Development Vision, first reported by Reuters, was sent last week to nearly a dozen Pacific Island nations. It proposed a number of measures, including high – level police training, networking and cyber security cooperation and development of free trade zones with China.

The proposal was released ahead of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to the islands and represents a broader push from Beijing to strengthen its ties with the region after that. signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands.

Anthony Albanese, Australia’s new Prime Minister, criticized its predecessor’s administration for “complacency” in allowing China to expand its influence in the Pacific. “We know China sees it as the first of many,” he said of the proposed region-wide pact.

Australia’s Labor government has made the Pacific a priority after it was sworn in this week. It plans to increase development aid by around A $ 500mn (US $ 354mn) in the coming years and has put climate policy at the center of its diplomatic efforts in the region. Quad, a security group made up of Australia, the United States, India and Japan, also agreed to crack down on illegal fishing in the region this week.

Penny Wong, Australia’s foreign minister, flew to Suva, Fiji’s capital, on Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama ahead of his conference with Yi on Monday.

The United States has also acted ahead of the Yi trip. Kurt Campbell, the senior White House official in the Indo-Pacific who visited the region last month, held a video call with Bainimarama this week to discuss improved security and economic deals.

However, there is some doubt that China’s broad multilateral framework will succeed with all its target countries. Micronesia is expected e.g. to oppose a nationwide agreement.

Charles Dunst, an Indo-Pacific expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, said that while the security aspects of the agreement would alert the United States and its allies, it was unclear whether the effort would prove successful.

“China’s decision to present an agreement pre-signed by Beijing seems to have frustrated a few Pacific Island leaders – reflecting the 2016 battle when China presented the ASEAN leaders and demanded that they sign a pre-signed agreement on several disputes. questions, “Dunst said.

“Some Pacific Island leaders are similarly protesting against signing this agreement without prior consultation and negotiation.”

However, China could still pursue bilateral agreements, such as a security pact with Kiribati, which reported by the Financial Times this week.

“China’s courageous initiative in the Pacific is an important reminder. Group.

“Many of China’s strongest diplomatic offerings come in areas related to business and economics,” he said.

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