IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


31st May, 2022 International Relations

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  • Ten Pacific Island nations rejected China's push for a wide-ranging regional security pact, amid worries the proposal was designed to pull them into Beijing's orbit.
  • A virtual summit of leaders and foreign ministers was expected to discuss proposals to radically increase China's involvement in the security, economy and politics of the South Pacific.

About the pact

  • The proposed pact would see Beijing train Pacific Island police, become involved in cybersecurity, expand political ties, conduct sensitive maritime mapping and gain greater access to natural resources on land and in the water.
  • As an enticement, Beijing offered millions of dollars in financial assistance, the prospect of a China-Pacific Islands free trade agreement and access to China's vast market of 1.4 billion people.
  • China has pitched itself to the South Pacific as a "major developing country" that stands shoulder to shoulder with small and medium-sized nations.
  • Before the meeting, President Xi Jinping sent a message that China would be "a good brother" to the region and that they shared a "common destiny".

Concerns raised by Island nations

  • Lack of consensus among the nations on Beijing’s proposed Common Development Vision.
  • President of the Federated States of Micronesia David Panuelo warned the proposed agreement was "disingenuous" and would "ensure Chinese influence in government" and "economic control" of key industries.
  • Many in the Pacific are keen to maintain amicable ties with China, balancing relations between Beijing and Washington while focusing on the more urgent threat of climate change and day-to-day economic issues.
    • All but a few of the Pacific Islands are low-lying and deeply vulnerable to sea-level rises caused by climate change.