Chinese foreign minister’s Pacific tour continues in Vanuatu

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Vanuatu on Wednesday for talks as he continued his regional island-hopping tour two days after failing to ink an ambitious deal with 10 South Pacific nations.

While Wang didn’t manage to get consensus on the multilateral security and economic plan at a meeting in Fiji after several nations voiced concerns, he has been notching up smaller wins by signing bilateral agreements with many of the countries he’s been visiting.

China and the Pacific countries haven’t so far made the details of those deals public.

Wang arrived in Vanuatu from Tonga, where he signed a number of deals with Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni on everything from disaster management to a royal tomb improvement project.

His tour comes amid growing international concerns about Beijing’s military ambitions and pursuit of natural resources in the region.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. as well as its allies and partners in the Pacific had made clear their concerns about China’s “opaque, shadowy deals.”

Price said he’d seen reports of regional and international media being blocked or encountering significant obstacles when attempting to cover Wang’s tour.

China says that cooperation between Beijing and the island nations has been expanding in a development that’s welcomed by those countries and builds on a long tradition of China helping developing nations.

Wang’s eight-nation tour continues through Saturday. In addition to Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu, Wang has visited the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Samoa. He also plans to visit Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

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