Wang Yi says South Pacific region isn’t an arena for a major power rivalry

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R), also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, shakes hands with Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, April 20, 2024. /Chinese Foreign Ministry

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R), also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, shakes hands with Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, April 20, 2024. /Chinese Foreign Ministry

The South Pacific region should not become an arena for a major power rivalry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday.

No country should regard any island country in the region as its “backyard,” Wang added.

Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks during talks with Justin Tkachenko, foreign minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), in Port Moresby.

Countries should not seek zero-sum games or exclusive arrangements, but should do more practical things for island countries and bring more benefits to the people of island countries, said Wang.

As a developing country, China is committed to mutual support and assistance and common development with the South Pacific Island countries through exchanges and cooperation, without seeking any geopolitical interests for its own, he stressed.

During the talks, Wang told Tkachenko that China has always viewed and valued PNG’s role from a strategic perspective, and developed bilateral relations with it from a long-term perspective.

China is ready to work with PNG to further implement the important common understandings reached by the leaders of the two countries to build a higher-level and higher-quality comprehensive strategic partnership, he said.

Wang added that China will continue to treat PNG as equals, and firmly support it in safeguarding sovereignty, independence and national unity, accelerating national revitalization, improving people’s livelihood, and playing a greater role in regional and multilateral affairs.

Noting that PNG is an important partner of the Belt and Road Initiative, he said China is willing to maintain high-level exchanges with the country, and start free trade agreement negotiations as soon as possible.

China is ready to boost cooperation with PNG in economy, trade, investment, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry and fishery, clean energy and climate change, said Wang.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, holds talks with Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, April 20, 2024. /Chinese Foreign Ministry

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, holds talks with Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, April 20, 2024. /Chinese Foreign Ministry

For his part, Tkachenko said China is a close friend of PNG, and the leaders of the two countries have maintained close communication and formed a high degree of mutual trust.

Cooperation between the two countries in various fields has been progressing smoothly, bringing tangible benefits to the people of the two countries, he said.

The PNG government has long been committed to and will continue to firmly pursue the one-China policy, and understands and supports China’s efforts to achieve national reunification, said Tkachenko.

PNG believes that cooperation between China and the South Pacific Island countries has promoted regional development, he said.

Tkachenko said PNG attaches great importance to China’s important role and fair stance in international and regional affairs, and is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, speaks at a press conference in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, April 20, 2024. /Chinese Foreign Ministry

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, speaks at a press conference in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, April 20, 2024. /Chinese Foreign Ministry

Speaking at a press conference with Tkachenko after the talks, Wang stressed that any attempt to provoke camp confrontation in the South Pacific region does not serve the urgent needs of the South Pacific Island countries.

China’s assistance to Pacific Island countries has always been free of political conditions and impositions, and China has never issued “blank checks,” said Wang.

He called on the international community to pay more attention to the special situation and legitimate concerns of the Pacific Island countries, to focus on issues of the greatest concerns to them, such as climate change and improvement of people’s livelihoods, and to come up with more ideas, more solutions, more practical work and more good deeds.

Commenting on the election of Solomon Islands, Wang said all parties should respect the choice of the people of Solomon Islands and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Solomon Islands.

The people of Solomon Islands have the wisdom and ability to decide the future of their country on their own, Wang said.