China signs new Pacific deal

Samoa will cooperated with China on projects yet ‘to be determined’

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has concluded his visit to Samoa on Saturday, after holding a series of talks with top officials on issues of “mutual interest and concern,” and signing a bilateral agreement on economic and technical cooperation. 

“Samoa and the People’s Republic of China will continue to pursue greater collaboration that will deliver on joint interests and commitments,”Samoa officials issued a statement Saturday night.

The Chinese delegation headed by Wang Yi paid a visit to the head of state, Afioga Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, and Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa, before signing at least three official documents – including an “Economic & Technical Cooperation Agreement for projects to be determined and mutually agreed between the respective Countries.”

Although there were not many details about the deal, the discussions reportedly included regional topics. “peace and security,”These issues include climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and others.

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FILE PHOTO: National flags for the Pacific Islands Forum are on display on the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru, September 3, 2018.
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Samoa also acknowledged Beijing as a key partner in its development in infrastructure, agriculture, and healthcare projects. The Chinese minister noted that the two countries have a lot in common “similar historical experiences and face common development tasks.”

“Under the current circumstance of unilateralism and hegemonic bullying, China is willing to consolidate unity and cooperation with developing countries including Samoa, jointly safeguard the legitimate rights of developing nations, and insist on true multilateralism,” Wang Yi said, according to the foreign ministry’s readout of the talks.

Wang’s trip follows the signing of a bilateral security pact with the Solomon Islands in April, which faced intense criticism from Australia and some of its Western allies. China’s diplomatic mission has seen the Chinese delegation visit the Solomons again, along with Samoa and Kiribati, before heading for Fiji.

Fiji’s Prime Minster Frank Bainimarama was in attendance. “wonderful meeting”With Australia’s highest diplomat Penny Wong who was sent on a rival charm offensive in Canberra by the new-elected government.

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Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) and Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 9, 2019. © THOMAS PETER / POOL / AFP
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“Fiji is not anyone’s backyard – we are a part of a Pacific family,”Bainimarama stated this on Twitter Saturday.

Australia’s new Labor government has vowed to “step up”After making China an issue in recent elections, its presence is now evident in the Pacific. Penny Wong previously blasted the Scott Morrison government for weakness toward Beijing, saying the deal with the Solomon’s occurred under his watch and created “the prospect of a Chinese base less than 2,000 kilometers from Australia’s coastline.”

Chinese officials denied plans to establish a military base at the islands. However, Beijing is seeking to offer significant economic and security deals to the Pacific nations, according to a draft document leaked to the press this week.



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