“We are concerned that these reported agreements may be negotiated in a rushed, nontransparent process,” Price told reporters. He warned that China “has a pattern of offering shadowy, vague deals with little transparency or regional consultation in areas related to fishing, related to resource management, development, development assistance and more recently even security practices.”
China wants 10 small Pacific nations to endorse a sweeping agreement covering everything from security to fisheries in what one leader warns is a “game-changing” bid by Beijing to wrest control of the region, AP reports.
A draft of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press shows that China wants to train Pacific police officers, team up on “traditional and non-traditional security” and expand law enforcement cooperation.
China also wants to jointly develop a marine plan for fisheries — which would include the Pacific’s lucrative tuna catch — increase cooperation on running the region’s internet networks, and set up cultural Confucius Institutes and classrooms. China also mentions the possibility of setting up a free trade area with the Pacific nations.
China’s move comes as Foreign Minister Wang Yi and a 20-person delegation begin a visit to the region this week.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed concern Wednesday about China’s intentions, saying Beijing might use the proposed accords to take advantage of the islands and destabilize the region.
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