Pacific Islands Forum should consider China security ties - Samoa PM

"The issues need to be considered in the broader context of what we have in place and what we want to do in terms of security provisions for the region," Samoa's prime minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, told a news conference with her New Zealand counterpart, referring to the Pacific Islands Forum. Leaders of the forum's members are due to meet in mid-July in Fiji, their first in-person gathering since 2019.


Reuters | Wellington | Updated: 14-06-2022 10:19 IST | Created: 14-06-2022 10:14 IST
Pacific Islands Forum should consider China security ties - Samoa PM
Fiame Naomi Mata'afa Image Credit: Wikipedia
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  • New Zealand

China's bid to set up a security pact with Pacific island countries should be considered by a regional forum, the leaders of Samoa and New Zealand said on Tuesday, weeks after the Solomon Islands sparked uproar by signing a deal with China.

The Pacific islands and their old allies, including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, were caught off guard by the Solomon Islands' security pact with China as it pushes to expand its influence in the region. "The issues need to be considered in the broader context of what we have in place and what we want to do in terms of security provisions for the region," Samoa's prime minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, told a news conference with her New Zealand counterpart, referring to the Pacific Islands Forum.

Leaders of the forum's members are due to meet in mid-July in Fiji, their first in-person gathering since 2019. China has dismissed criticism of its pact with the Solomon Islands, saying it poses no military threat and closer ties benefit everyone, and is promoting a proposal for a region-wide deal with almost a dozen Pacific countries covering policing security and data communication cooperation.

Pacific leaders discussed the proposal with a top Chinese official last month but they have not agreed to it. "The decision was that the group of countries felt that the appropriate modality of consideration of these kinds of proposals needs to be passed through the forum secretary," Mata'afa said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also said that under regional agreements, the Pacific Islands Forum was where security should be discussed. "As a forum, we will come together, we'll discuss these issues, we'll of course, hopefully, build consensus," she said.

But consensus on the question of China is likely to remain a challenge when four members of the forum - Palau, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu - recognize Taiwan rather than Beijing.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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