China criticizes AUKUS alliance, warns against major power competition in Pacific

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticized the AUKUS trilateral defense partnership between the US, UK and Australia on Sunday, saying the Pacific should not become an arena for major power competition.

During a joint press conference with his Papua New Guinean counterpart Justin Tkatchenko, Wang expressed concerns over the AUKUS agreement during his visit to Papua New Guinea, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

He emphasized that the Pacific "should not be a playground for major powers," raising objections to the US, UK and Australia introducing nuclear submarine development in the region.

He argued that this move violates the objectives of the Treaty of Rarotonga, the common name for the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty of 1985.

Wang reiterated China's stance against bloc-to-bloc confrontation in the region, highlighting that such an approach does not align with the needs and historical development trends of Pacific countries.

He also emphasized China's commitment to "South-South cooperation," which is based on solidarity between developing countries and is not driven by geopolitical interests or agendas.

In response to efforts to counterbalance China's economic influence in the Pacific, including through the AUKUS and QUAD alliances, Beijing has been strengthening its ties with Pacific island nations to gain ground in the region.

This includes a controversial security agreement signed with the Solomon Islands in 2022 which has raised concerns about the presence of Chinese warships in Solomon Islands' ports and the authorization for Chinese security personnel to maintain social order and protect life, property and Chinese projects.

Critics argue that the agreement essentially serves as a "security pact," allowing China to deploy its military for the protection of its citizens and projects in the southern Pacific Ocean.

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