NEWS

China Rubbishes Claims of Hand in Kiribati Move

China has rubbished claims of any involvement in Kiribati’s withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum. The Chinese Embassy in Suva has called media reports about the allegations as “completely groundless.”
13 Jul 2022 08:27
China Rubbishes Claims of Hand in Kiribati Move
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during the traditional welcome ceremony at the Grand Pacific Hotel on July 12, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

China has rubbished claims of any involvement in Kiribati’s withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum.

The Chinese Embassy in Suva has called media reports about the allegations as “completely groundless.”

This comes after The Guardian report quoting the opposition leader, Tessie Lambourne.

She claimed that the “withdrawal from PIF was influenced by China, that Mr Maamau’s administration was weak, vulnerable and greatly indebted to a superpower that was aggressively trying to acquire strong footing in the region.”

But China has maintained that for years, China and the Pacific Islands Forum have had sound cooperative relations.

 

“I would like to stress that China does not interfere in the internal affairs of Pacific Island Countries and hopes to see greater solidarity and closer cooperation among regional countries for common development,” the statement said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also acknowledged “that each country in the Pacific has their own relationships with others and China has a long history with a number of countries.”

“Aotearoa New Zealand does too.”

“Where those relationships impact others in the region then we believe there does need to be a coordinated response.”

“When we talk with others who have an interest in the region, including China, we emphasise that it is important that engagement in the Pacific takes place in a manner which advances Pacific priorities.”

“It is consistent with established regional practices, and supportive of Pacific regional institutions. We’ve also been very clear that we are op- posed to the militarisation of our region,” she said.

 

Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said this week is an opportunity for regional leaders to have a conversation about what they want the region to be.

“We know we’re stronger together and that unity is founded on listening and respect. For Australia, the Pacific is our home and heart,” Mr Albanese said.

“We treasure our bonds of friendship. We value our bio- diversity and yet we have so much in common. We have always been there for each other in times of need.

“This is from fighting together in defence of liberty during the Second World War through responding collectively to more recent natural disasters.”

 

Australia Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong said Australia joining the Pacific Island Forum has a clear conscience while others were not.

“So it’s unsurprising that members of the Pacific Islands Forum would meet together. I made comments before about China and what we think about their relation towards the Pacific security,” Senator Wong said.

“Our members of the Pacific family are capable of providing that security.”

“And we think that the pacific unity is important as we navigate a world and fight towards climate change and the coronavirus pandemic together,” she said.

 

Feedback: nacanieli@fijisun.com.fj



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