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China’s Attempts to Influence the Pacific Islands

China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, visited the Pacific Islands from May 26 to June 4. However, Beijing failed to convince the island countries to sign key cooperation treaties at the Second China-Pacific Islands Foreign Minister Meetings on May 30.

Reuters reported that China drafted two treaties for the meeting. One was the “China-Pacific Islands Countries Common Development Vision.” The second was a five-year development plan. China said it will provide millions of dollars in aid to the ten island countries and establish a free trade agreement (FTA) to let them enter China’s market of 1.4 billion people. In return, China will have a big influence over these countries. China will train police for these ten countries, set up forensic labs, participate in local network security work and intelligent customs, develop political connections, conduct sensitive marine mapping, and obtain more local natural resources.

On May 20, Micronesia’s President Panuelo sent a letter to state heads of 21 countries in the Pacific. He said that his cabinet asked him to carefully consider Beijing’s suggestion and considered that China’s FTA recommendation was dishonest. President Panuelo warned in his letter that China’s recommendation will in essence tie the economy and the society of the island countries to Beijing.

The foreign ministers of these islands countries didn’t sign China’s two documents on May 30.

In the past, China has been working on the Pacific Islands:

  1. In 2002, China convinced Nauru to cut its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
  2. China set up an economic office in the Pacific Islands to secure economic and trade relations, as well as its fishing business with these countries.
  3. China, through the military medical system, gradually provided equipment and built medical facilities in the name of military medical humanitarian aid in the three countries that have defense departments: Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and the Kingdom of Tonga.
  4. China has built a large number of tourist hotels in the Federated States of Micronesia and Fiji.
  5. China has gradually taken control the mines in these countries.
  6. In April this year, China signed a secret treaty with the Solomon Islands which allowed China to have police exchanges and a possible naval base on the Solomon Islands.

1. BBC, June 1, 2022
2. Epoch Times, June 4, 2022