Visiting Chinese FM Wang Yi (left) and PM Frank Bainimarama attend a joint press conference in Suva, Fiji. AFP
Pacific island nations with diplomatic ties with China are attending the meeting, hosted by Wang, who earlier met with Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
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A draft communique and five-year action plan sent by China to the invited nations, which include Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Niue and Vanuatu ahead of the meeting, showed China was seeking a sweeping regional trade and security agreement. But the draft communique prompted opposition from at least one of the invited nations, Federated States of Micronesia, according to a letter leaked last week.
With borders closed across the region because of the COVID pandemic, most foreign ministers are attending the Fiji meeting by video link. In several Pacific countries, the foreign minister is also prime minister.
The President of Fiji (left) watches as the Chinese FM Wang Yi signs the visitors book in Suva, Fiji. AP
Several invited nations want to defer action on the communique or have it amended, an official from one Pacific country told Reuters.
Some Pacific islands have in recent days signed on to some of the individual security components that China is seeking in the regional agreement, statements released by the governments and China show.
In Samoa, an agreement was struck for a police fingerprint laboratory to complement a China-funded police training academy, Samoa said in a statement.
The United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand have expressed concern at a security pact signed by Solomon Islands with China last month, saying it had regional consequences and could lead to a Chinese military presence close to Australia.
The new Australian government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has made the Pacific islands an early foreign policy priority to counter Beijing's push, announcing a defence training school, support for maritime security, a boost in aid and re-engaging the region on climate change.
In Honiara last week, Wang condemned interference in the deal and said the Solomon Islands' relationship with China was a model for other Pacific island nations.
Security was tight in Hong Kong early on Thursday with police vans dotting the streets ahead of an expected China national day march by pro-democracy protesters, despite authorities banning the demonstration.
The inauguration came as Hong Kong’s education bureau announced Wednesday that schools must not allow students to play, sing or broadcast the protest anthem "Glory to Hong Kong” because it contains political messages.
The statement came in response to comments from US Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell, who said on Friday that China "overreacted" to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
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Social media users reacted strongly to the video and the villagers' predicament with comments slamming the concerned authorities for reneging on their promise to provide good rural connectivity.
The marriage of Crown Prince Hussein, 28, and Saudi architect Rajwa Al Saif, 29, drew a star-studded guest list including Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, as well as US First Lady Jill Biden.
The authorities said that after the issuance of the visit visa, the tourist must enter the country within 60 days from the date of issuance, and the validity of the entry permit will be 30 days or 60 days, depending on the visa sought.