In order to expand its military and diplomatic presence in the world, China has reportedly started putting in efforts to develop military bases in Pacific islands. Kiribati, a Micronesian country, has started talking about opening its marine reserves for commercial purposes, ANI cited Singapore Post report. The decision will not only be helpful for commercial purposes but also as a naval base for China.
Kiribati President Taneti Maamau has reportedly taken the decision to open up marine reserves for commercial fishing to China. According to the Pacific country’s government, the country will earn $200 million in cash. As per the Singapore Post report, China has become an economic ally of Pacific island countries, particularly during the COVID pandemic. The COVID pandemic has affected the whole world including the small countries that have been struggling with their economies.
China engages with Pacific island nations
As per the report, Vanuatu has refuted the claims that they were permitting the Chinese authorities to create a military base in the country. An Australian think tank has revealed that between 2006 to 2014, the PLA delegation has traveled 24 times to the Pacific island countries, according to ANI.
Countries like Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia are among the countries that constitute the Pacific islands region. To expand its diplomatic and military profile globally, China has started engaging with Pacific island countries.
Reportedly, China finances the Melanesian Spearhead Group that is based in Suva, Fiji. In addition, China has also financed the undersea fiber-optic system, which was planned to originate in Guam, as per the ANI report. The decision to design the fiberoptic system was taken in order to ‘improve the communication” in Nauru, Kiribati, and the Federated States of Micronesia, however, the plan was later canceled as the United States had opposed it citing security reasons.
China-Pacific Island Foreign Ministers meeting
Earlier on 21 October, the first China-Pacific Island Foreign Ministers meeting was held virtually. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi presided over the meeting and the meeting was attended by foreign ministers of Pacific island nations, as per China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.
During the meeting, Wang Yi highlighted that the ties between China and Pacific island countries have become an “example of friendly exchanges and solidarity”. Furthermore, Wang Yi stated that China and the Pacific island countries respect each other and treat each other as equals. He added that the relationship between China and Pacific island nations continues to strengthen and that China agreed to cooperate with these countries to form a ‘closer comprehensive strategic partnership’.
Source: ANI, Republic