Samoa and China inked a bilateral agreement on Saturday, promising “greater collaboration,” as Beijing’s foreign minister continues a tour of the South Pacific that has alarmed Western allies.
The pact’s terms remain unknown because it was reached in the middle of a Chinese delegation’s eight-nation tour, but a leaked draught agreement provided to several Pacific countries revealed ambitions to boost security and economic ties.
As a result of the expedition, Western officials have urged their regional partners to reject any move by China to expand its security reach throughout the region.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa met and addressed “climate change, the pandemic, and peace and security,” according to a news statement from the Samoan government.
The local press was invited to witness the signing of a contract, but no questions were asked.
According to the press release, China will continue to help various Samoan sectors with infrastructure development, and a new framework for future projects would be “developed and mutually agreed upon.”
The announcement stated, “Samoa and the People’s Republic of China will continue to pursue greater collaboration that will deliver on joint interests and commitments,”
This week, the Chinese delegation visited the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
It landed in Samoa on Friday night and was scheduled to leave for Fiji on Saturday afternoon, with stops in Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor all on the itinerary.
Penny Wong, Australia’s new foreign minister, was in Fiji on Friday, aiming to attract island governments after the Solomon Islands surprised Canberra last month by signing a broad security agreement with China.
“We have expressed our concerns publicly about the security agreement,” Wong told reporters in Suva, Fiji’s capital.
“As do other Pacific islands, we think there are consequences. We think that it’s important that the security of the region be determined by the region. And historically, that has been the case. And we think that is a good thing.”
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