Not competing for influence
China has insisted it has "no intention to compete" for influence in the South Pacific as foreign minister Wang Yi and his Australian counterpart Penny Wong again jetted around the region yesterday on duelling diplomatic charm offensives.
In a statement distributed by the Chinese embassy in Canberra, Beijing said it "does not seek exclusive rights" in the region and "we have no intention to compete with others".
The claim comes as Wang nears the end of a 10-day visit to Pacific Island nations that has seen China pitch a radically increased role in regional security, much to the concern of the United States and Australia.
"China respects Australia's historical and traditional ties in the region and there is enough space in the vast Pacific Ocean for China, Australia and all island countries to share peace, development and prosperity," the statement said.
On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated that the United States, like Australia, had made clear its concerns that China had offered a "shadowy" deal with regional consultations.
"We are committed to continue deepening our relationship with our Pacific Island partners and in the Indo-Pacific, including working together to deliver for our people," Price told reporters.
Although Wang failed to secure support for a regional security deal that would have seen Beijing play a much bigger role in sensitive areas including policing and cybersecurity, he has inked a series of country-specific agreements on his trip.
The visit has prompted the newly elected Australian government to embark on a diplomatic blitz to shore up decades-old alliances.