Ten Pacific island nations rebuffed China’s push for a wide-ranging regional security pact Monday, amid worries the proposal was designed to pull them into Beijing’s orbit.
Talks in Fiji between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and leaders from the small island nations failed to reach an agreement, in a high-profile diplomatic setback for Beijing.
China is offering to radically ramp up its activities in the South Pacific, directly challenging the influence of the United States and its allies in the strategically vital region.
The proposed pact would see Beijing train Pacific island police, become involved in cybersecurity, expand political ties, conduct sensitive marine mapping and gain greater access to natural resources on land and in the water.
As an enticement, Beijing is offering millions of dollars in financial assistance, the prospect of a potentially lucrative China-Pacific islands free trade agreement and access to China’s vast market of 1.4 billion people.
Behind the scenes, Pacific leaders have voiced deep misgivings about the offer.