BEIJING (AP) — China’s foreign minister met with the leaders of Samoa on Saturday on the third stop of an island-hopping tour aimed at deepening China’s ties with Pacific nations.
The two sides signed an economic and technical cooperation agreement, a handover certificate for an arts and culture center and the Samoa–China Friendship Park, and an exchange of letters for a fingerprint laboratory for the police, a Samoan government news release said.
Australia and the United States are closely watching the 10-day trip by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, fearful that China could be laying the groundwork for an eventual military presence in the region that would extend its reach farther into the Pacific. China says its development of economic and security ties with Pacific nations doesn’t pose a threat to others.
Wang, who arrived from Kiribati on Friday night and left for Fiji on Saturday afternoon, met with Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and paid a courtesy call on head of state Tuimalealiifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II. His delegation included representatives of China’s Commerce Ministry and international development agency.
Fiame and Wang discussed climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and security issues, the Samoan release said. It described China as a key development partner for Samoa, providing infrastructure for health, education and government, human resource development, sports development and technical assistance in agriculture.
In Fiji, Wang will host a meeting with Pacific islands’ foreign ministers and hopes to win the endorsement of 10 Pacific nations for a sweeping agreement that would cover everything from security to fisheries. He started his trip on Thursday in the Solomon Islands.