Beijing [China]: China has accused Australia of trying to sabotage its relationship with Fiji as questions have emerged over whether the Pacific Islands country will cut security and law enforcement ties with Beijing, ABC News reported.
The ties between China and Fiji have strained ever since Sitiveni Rabuka took over power late last year, mainly after the new prime minister took back a decision, forcing Taiwan to downgrade the official title of its diplomatic mission in Fiji.
The rise in tensions comes after a diplomatic spat between China and Fiji over Rabuka’s decision to not meet with China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu when he visited Suva last month.
Sitiveni Rabuka has repeatedly said that he will end a 2011 police cooperation agreement signed between China and Fiji under the country’s former PM Frank Bainimarama. Rabuka said that wanted to limit law enforcement relations to countries with ‘similar systems,’ as per the ABC News report.
Last week, the Chinese embassy in Fiji released its statement on the issue, saying it hoped ‘relevant parties’ would ‘abandon ideological prejudice, and view the law enforcement and police cooperation between China and Fiji objectively and rationally’. Chinese Embassy took a dig at the US and Australia, saying that other nations had deliberately tried to affect ties between Beijing and Suva.
The statement released by the Chinese Embassy reads, ‘The Chinese side sincerely hopes relevant countries to make more contributions through concrete actions for Fiji and the PIC (Pacific Island countries) rather than only caring and helping the PICs out of geopolitical needs,’ as per the news report.
Later, China’s Special Envoy to the Pacific, Qian Bo, while speaking to Samoa Observer said that he was ‘surprised’ by Fiji’s actions and blamed ‘other parties’ who had ‘interrupted’ the ties between the two nations. He further said, ‘We have some patience, but there is a bottom line for us that sees that we meet the core concerns of China.’
Meanwhile, Fiji’s senior ministers have made contradictory statements about the exact status of the police cooperation agreement. On Friday, Fijian Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua who has responsibility for the defence forces and police denied the agreement had already been scrapped and stressed that the government was merely ‘reviewing’ it. He said that the agreement has not been terminated.
‘We want to review the terms that govern the relationship between the government of China and Fiji with regards to security. That’s what we’re doing we are following the process,’ Pio Tikoduadua said as per the ABC News report. In response to a question regarding China’s criticism of Fiji, he said that no decision has been made.
‘I am the line minister for [the agreement]. It’s not at the discretion of the prime minister,’ he said. Pio Tikoduadua said that according to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Fiji had to give six months’ notice before reviewing or terminating the agreement. He further said that he gave the notice to the Chinese government earlier this year.