Skip to content


China is pursuing a broad regional economic security agreement with Pacific countries that would significantly expand its influence and reach in those countries, in a pact that deeply worries Western countries and some Pacific leaders.

The far-reaching agreement sets out China’s vision for a much closer relationship with the Pacific, particularly on security issues, with China proposing that it be involved in police training, cybersecurity, sensitive nautical cartography and obtaining better access to natural resources.

A draft agreement, drafted in a style similar to the controversial bilateral security agreement signed by the Solomon Islands and China last month, and a five-year action plan, both obtained by the Guardian, cover a wide range questions. , including trade, finance and investment, tourism, public health and Covid-19 support, establishment of Chinese language and cultural exchanges, training and scholarships, as well as disaster prevention and rescue.

The deal will be discussed by Pacific leaders and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who has embarked on a marathon tour of the Pacific, visiting eight countries in 10 days. He meets his counterpart from the Solomon Islands on Thursday.

China hopes the agreement will be signed by 10 Pacific countries in Fiji next week when Wang hosts the second meeting of China-Pacific foreign ministers.

New Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong issued a statement in response to the announcement of the draft agreement: “China has made clear its intentions [but] so are the intentions of the new Australian government.

She will travel to Fiji on Thursday in an early sign of her determination to deepen relations with Pacific countries, news of the draft agreement reacted to.

The agreement reiterates China’s commitment to double bilateral trade volume by 2025 compared to 2018, and also promises to give an additional $2 million to Pacific island countries for Covid relief, as well as send 200 Chinese medical personnel to Pacific countries over the next five years. China is also offering 2,500 government scholarships to the region and will send 5-10 art troupes to the islands, pending Covid rules.

One of the main objectives of the proposed agreement is China’s involvement in Pacific security.

The arrangement would see a dramatic expansion of China’s engagement with policing in the region, with the draft agreement proposing to “expand law enforcement cooperation, jointly combat transnational crime and to establish a dialogue mechanism on law enforcement capacity and police cooperation”.

It emphasizes China’s training of Pacific police forces, an activity in which it is already involved across the region, with China offering to organize “mid-level and high-level police training”. for Pacific island countries and urgently to “hold the first China-Pacific Island Countries Ministerial Dialogue on Law Enforcement Capacity and Police Cooperation” later this year, as well as help build laboratories for fingerprint testing, forensic autopsy, drugs, electronic and digital forensics.

The agreement also aims to strengthen cooperation on “cybersecurity” and promote “the development of rules for global data governance”.

The agreement proposes the promotion of trade between the countries, including exploring the possibility of establishing a “free trade area” with the Pacific countries. In addition to seeking to expand mutual cooperation in infrastructure, energy, mining, information technology, e-commerce, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, China hopes for more direct investment in Pacific countries from “reputable Chinese companies”.

In a proposal that will raise concerns, China also proposes to jointly produce a “maritime spatial plan” and engage in sensitive marine mapping, as well as allowing China greater access to natural resources.

China already dominates resource extraction industries in the Pacific. A major Guardian investigation last year found that China received more than half of the total tonnes of seafood, timber and minerals exported from the region in 2019, a shipment worth $3. $3 billion which has been described by experts as “staggeringly large”.

A survey of vessels operating in the Pacific in 2016 found that China at the time had 290 industrial vessels licensed to operate in the region, more than a quarter of the total, and more than the 240 of all countries in the Pacific united.

However, some Pacific leaders reacted strongly to the deal.

In a letter to 21 Pacific leaders seen by Reuters, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President David Panuelo, who is not one of the countries Wang will visit or meet, said his country would support the “determined joint pre-communiqué” should be rejected, as he feared it would trigger a new “cold war” between China and the West.

A senior diplomat in the region told the Guardian that some leaders had “great concerns” but “there is a vacuum left in this region by traditional partners – they have to work very hard to win back the hearts of Pacific people”.

The diplomat said the deal was not guaranteed. “We will work through our regional architecture to ensure that the security and stability of our region is maintained under international law.”

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.