China urges powers to avoid rivalry in South Pacific

April 21, 2024 3:34 pm

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi [Source: Reuters]

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi on Saturday said the South Pacific region should not become an arena for major power rivalries and that its assistance to countries there is free of political conditions.

The Pacific has become a source of intense competition for influence between Washington, which has traditionally viewed it as its backyard, and Beijing, which has targeted Taiwanese diplomatic allies there.

Wang made the comments at a joint press conference with his Papua New Guinea counterpart during a visit to country.

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He said any attempt to provoke confrontation in the South Pacific region does not serve the needs of its people.

He added that China is willing to maintain high-level exchanges with Papua New Guinea and open negotiations for free trade agreements as soon as possible.

State media Xinhua reported Wang saying that all parties should respect the choice of the people of the Solomon Islands and refrain from interfering in their internal affairs.

Local media reported late on Friday that the Solomon Islands’ pro-China Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has retained his seat in a national election.

Wednesday’s election was the first since Sogavare struck a security pact with China in 2022 and drew the Pacific Islands nation closer to Beijing, in moves that concerned the U.S. and Australia because of the potential impact on regional security.