China fails to sign the big Pacific agreement, but it wins smaller victories

China failed Monday to endorse the bold plan of 10 Pacific countries to sign a new comprehensive agreement that covers everything, security included. Some in the region were deeply concerned.

China fails to sign the big Pacific agreement, but it wins smaller victories

China failed Monday to endorse the bold plan of 10 Pacific countries to sign a new comprehensive agreement that covers everything, security included. Some in the region were deeply concerned.

However, there were many small wins for China's Foreign Ministry Wang Yi during his island-hopping tour through the region.

Wang was in Fiji as co-host of a crucial meeting with foreign ministers representing the 10 island countries.

After speaking for around 30 minutes, Wang and Fijian Prime minister Frank Bainimarama left the stage abruptly as reporters attempted to ask questions. Many details about the meeting were not disclosed.

It was evident that the nations had not endorsed China's plans.

Bainimarama stated, "As always we put consensus among our countries during any discussion about new regional agreements."

There have been increasing international concerns about Beijing's financial and military ambitions in the region. However, many Fijians see foreign investment as a benefit, provided it improves the lives of the people.

Georgina Matilda stated that her work for China Railway, an infrastructure company in China, meant she could provide food for her family.

Miliane Rokolita from Fiji said that China's increasing presence has benefited the people.

They bring us larger houses. They bring in money to Fiji. Rokolita stated that they are good people.

According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, Wang hoped to convince the 10 countries to sign a pre-written agreement in a joint communique following the meeting.

Wang couldn't reach the consensus he wanted.

David Panuelo (president of the Federated States of Micronesia) told other Pacific leaders that he would not endorse the plan. He also warned them in a letter, that the plan would unnecessarily increase geopolitical tensions, and threaten regional stability.

Panuelo called it the "single most game-changing agreement in Pacific in any of us lifetimes" and stated that it "threatens a new Cold War Era at best and a World War at its worst."

Monday's news conference saw Wang list some areas in which the countries have been able to reach agreement and he said that he would continue working on other areas.

Through an interpreter, Wang stated that China would release its own position paper describing its positions, proposals, and cooperation plans with Pacific Island countries after the meeting. "We will continue to have in-depth discussions to build more consensus going forward."

Although China may not have reached a multilateral grand agreement, it has been signing bilateral agreements with Pacific countries every day of Wang's visit.

Wang, for instance, visited Kiribati on Friday, where a crucial fishing ground that is the size of California is at risk. Kiribati's government stated that the two countries had signed 10 agreements, which range from cooperation on economic goals to building a particular bridge.

The AP requested details from Kiribati's government but Kiribati did not respond immediately.

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