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Editorial: PM Enhances Our Profile on World Stage

Editorial: PM Enhances  Our Profile on  World Stage
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during the Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation. Photo: DEPTFO News
May 17
11:00 2017

It’s a source of pride and inspiration to see our Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, stand beside leaders of some of the world’s super powers.

In the Fiji Sun yesterday, he was pictured on the front page with China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It was more than a photo session. These are rare moments in history when world leaders come together to talk about pressing issues.

Despite our size, Mr Bainimarama is standing tall in Beijing, China, attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation and rubbing shoulders with other world leaders.

The relationships forged during this forum have important implications on bilateral relations. These relations, in turn, have a significant impact on how we do business with other countries on several fronts.

For Mr Bainimarama, he has now become a familiar figure on these high-powered circuits. Currently, he is president of COP23, a responsibility that carries a lot of weight.

The whole world is watching to see what sort of impact would a small group of islands in the Pacific have on advancing the resolutions of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (front, left), called on world leaders to engage with Pacific island nations to address the threat of climate change in the region and to defend the Paris Agreement on climate change during the Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation. Photo: DEPTFO News

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (front, left), called on world leaders to engage with Pacific island nations to address the threat of climate change in the region and to defend the Paris Agreement on climate change during the Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation. Photo: DEPTFO News

Looming large as a major concern is American President Donald Trump’s declared intention of pulling the United States out of climate change negotiations. President Trump has also said that he wants to stop US contributions to the Green Climate Fund.

But Mr Bainimarama has got allies like Russia and China who can talk climate change with Mr Trump on equal grounds.

According to the Financial Times, China had pledged to stick with its carbon-cutting commitments despite Mr Trump’s move that could cripple Washington’s ability to meet its part of the Paris Agreement.

In a step that experts said showed China’s readiness to boost its global influence, Beijing joined the European Union to say it would press on with its Paris pledges after the US President signed an executive order aimed at sweeping away curbs on fossil fuels launched by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

“As a responsible developing country, China’s plan, determination and policy to tackle climate change is resolute,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said.

While not mentioning the US specifically, the spokesperson said every signatory to the accord adopted in 2015 should “fulfil their pledges and implement the agreement with positive actions”.

The comments, says the Financial Times, are an indication that China is preparing to step into the climate leadership vacuum created by Mr Trump’s actions, some experts observe.

While Mr Putin reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement, he also agreed with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö’s comments regarding the inevitability of global warming. He told CNBC at the International Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk, Russia, global warming would “continue anyway and anyhow.”

Mr Bainimarama, no doubt, has heard from the Chinese and Russian leaders on their positions for COP23.

After Beijing he flies to Bonn for a COP23 preparation meeting equipped with knowledge of where the leaders stand now in climate change. This will help the Fijian team strategise to draw up an action plan before the November climate change summit in Bonn.

Mr Bainimarama earns the distinction of being the first Pacific leader to be a COP president. It’s not the first time he has ascended to high international office.

In 2013, he was appointed chair of the United Nations biggest voting bloc, the G77.

The grouping consists of more than 130 developing countries, plus China. It was the first time that a Pacific nation was handed a 12-month chairmanship of the G77.

Contrary to what some of his local political critics are saying, the Beijing and Bonn events will enhance Fiji’s standing in the international community with potential benefits for us all.

NEMANI DELAIBATIKI

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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