A Major Australian newspaper The Australian recently reported in its Chinese Edition that the newly elected Fijian prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka has decided to strengthen military and diplomatic ties with Australia and has ruled out having the Chinese military train Fiji’s military or police force. China’s dominance in the South Pacific has met a major stumbling block. As an important departure from the pro-Beijing foreign policy of his predecessor, Mr. Rabuka acknowledged in his first major diplomatic interview since his victory about a month ago that China’s push into the region posed ongoing dangers. He said that, as far as he was concerned, he knew more about Australians, Americans and New Zealanders than he did about the Chinese. However, the former military commander and leader of two coups warned that Australia can no longer take its relationship with Fiji for granted. Mr. Rabuka acknowledged that he was appalled by the development of China’s influence in Fiji during his predecessor’s 16 years in power. He pledged that his government would not accept a Solomon Islands-style agreement to allow China to train Fiji’s police or army. He explained that Fiji has two very friendly agreements: a defense cooperation program with Australia and a military assistance program with New Zealand. He added that, “The interoperability of our forces is also very important.” Mr. Rabuka added that he would reverse the deal with Beijing, and that he would also exclude the sale of key areas of Fiji’s infrastructure, such as airports and seaports, to China or to any other foreign interests. Hi did acknowledge, however, that the new government will continue to receive “technical assistance” from Taiwan.
Source: The Australian (Chinese Edition), January 25, 2023