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20 May 2024 12:20
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  •   Home > News > Politics

    China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi visits PNG, saying Pacific nations aren't 'the backyard' of other countries

    China's top diplomat Wang Yi takes a swipe at the geo-political jostling for influence in the Pacific, saying Pacific Island countries aren't "the backyard of any major country".


    China's top diplomat Wang Yi has taken a swipe at the geo-political jostling for influence in the Pacific, saying Pacific Island countries aren't "the backyard of any major country". 

    The foreign minister made the remark during a visit to Papua New Guinea, where he held bilateral talks with his PNG counterpart and provided grant funding for PNG's disaster relief efforts.

    The trip comes just days before Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives in Port Moresby to walk the Kokoda Track in a symbolic visit highlighting the shared wartime history of Australia and PNG.

    Mr Wang was last in PNG in 2022, during a regional visit where China unsuccessfully sought a regional security and trade deal.

    China has however signed major security and policing agreements with PNG's neighbour, Solomon Islands, which caused considerable consternation within Canberra.

    The Australian government then secured a bilateral security agreement with Papua New Guinea late last year.

    Amid speculation, PNG's foreign minister, Justin Tkatchenko, told his Australian counterparts earlier this year that PNG was not pursuing any security agreement with China.

    In a press conference following the bilateral meeting, where no questions were allowed, Mr Wang urged for the "non-interference in the domestic affairs of Pacific Island countries".

    "Pacific Island countries have a right to invite friendly cooperation with all development partners," he said.

    "Both China and Pacific Island countries are members of the global south and are developing countries.

    "It is honest and open of our two sides to help each other.

    "Pacific Island countries are the home of the people in this region, they are not the backyard of any major country."

    'Friendship built on trust'

    Following the bilateral meeting, China and PNG signed several agreements, relating to the export of PNG cocoa and coffee, cooperation on information communication technology and $1.7 million in disaster relief.

    Mr Tkatchenko said the pair reached "very positive understandings" on a number of issues.

    "I want to reassure the foreign minister of the importance PNG places on its bilateral relationship with China," he said.

    "A friendship that has been built up on trust, PNG values China as an important bilateral partner."

    Mr Wang also used his remarks to PNG media as an opportunity to criticise the AUKUS partnership, claiming it created "division" that isn't "in line with the urgent needs of Pacific Island countries".

    It was revealed this month that the AUKUS partnership, which would see Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, is considering bringing Japan into the fold for the second pillar of the agreement.

    "The AUKUS partnership … insists on introducing nuclear submarine development in this region," Mr Wang said.

    "It causes serious nuclear non-proliferation risks, threatening regional peace and security.

    "Recently, they're also making excuses to take more countries into it.

    "Such acts … instigating division is not in line with the urgent needs of Pacific Island countries."

    Solomon Islands election

    In his remarks, Mr Wang also said he wished "success" for the Solomon Islands, as votes are being counted in their elections.

    "All parties should respect the choice of the people of Solomon Islands and should not interfere in the internal affairs of Solomon Islands," he said.

    "We believe the people have the wisdom to decide the future of their own country independently."

    Mr Wang will finish his trip to Papua New Guinea with a meeting with Prime Minister James Marape today.


    ABC




    © 2024 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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