AP Explains: What’s at Stake for China on South Pacific Visit?

BEIJING — China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is visiting the South Pacific with a 20-person delegation this week in a display of Beijing’s growing military and diplomatic presence in the region.

The U.S. has traditionally been the area’s major power, but China has been pursuing inroads, particularly with the Solomon Islands, a nation less than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Australia. In a sign of Australia’s concern, new Foreign Minister Penny Wong is heading to Fiji less than a week after her Labor Party won national elections.

Below is a look at Wang’s tour and its likely outcomes.


Wang is due to stop in the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and East Timor on a 10-day trip.

The visits emphasize China’s push for engagement with the region, which has traditionally retained close ties with Beijing’s major rivals including the United States and Australia. China has also waged a protracted struggle for influence because of Taiwan. China considers the self-governed island its own territory and opposes foreign interactions that treat Taiwan as autonomous and independent, but four South Pacific island nations are among Taiwan’s dwindling number of formal diplomatic allies.

A more robust Chinese presence in the South Pacific could enable its naval forces to make port calls and possibly put personnel and equipment at a base in the area. That would complicate U.S. defense strategy, particularly over contingency plans for any Chinese move to take Taiwan that would likely draw in Japan and other allies.


Under leader Xi Jinping, China has been expanding its foreign economic and diplomatic clout through the Belt and Road Initiative that seeks to link East Asia with Europe and beyond through ports, railways, power plants and other infrastructure.

The results have been mixed, with client states such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan falling deeply in debt and developed nations citing national security grounds in banning Chinese government-backed companies including telecoms giant Huawei. The South Pacific, however, remains relatively open for Chinese advances at low cost and potentially high reward.

China has mostly sat on the sidelines over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its top leaders haven’t left the country in more than two years amid strict anti-COVID measures and deteriorating ties with the U.S., Canada and the EU. With Xi seeking a third five-year term as head of the ruling Communist Party, a foreign policy victory would help cement his authority and fend off criticism of his handling of the pandemic and its economic costs.


The agreement could allow China to send security forces to the Solomons at its government’s request for what are described as peacekeeping duties. It would also enable Chinese navy ships to make port calls to resupply and provide recreation for sailors, possibly leading to a permanent presence in the islands.

The United States has said it would take unspecified action against the Solomon Islands if the agreement with China poses a threat to U.S. or allied interests.


Apart from worries over Chinese expansion across the vast Pacific, under its new government, Australia has urged Beijing to lift trade sanctions if it wants to reset their bilateral relationship.

The Chinese premier’s congratulatory letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on his election victory was widely seen as a relaxation of Beijing’s two-year ban on high-level government contact with Australia. Premier Li Keqiang said China was ready to work with Australia to improve ties, which plummeted after Australia passed legislation targeting Chinese influence in its elections and political discourse.

In retaliation, China has created a series of official and unofficial trade barriers in recent years to a range of Australian exports worth billions of dollars including coal, wine, barley, beef and seafood.


According to a draft of an agreement obtained by The Associated Press, China wants 10 Pacific nations to enter into an arrangement with it covering everything from security to fisheries.

The draft shows that China wants to expand law enforcement cooperation, jointly develop a fisheries plan, increase cooperation on running the region’s internet networks, and set up cultural Confucius Institutes and classrooms.

Wang is hoping the countries will endorse the pre-written agreement as part of a joint communique after a May 30 meeting in Fiji with the other foreign ministers.



NEW ORLEANS — The FBI has opened a widening investigation into sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans going back decades, a rare federal foray into such cases looking specifically at whether priests took children across state lines to molest them, officials and others familiar with the inquiry told The Associated Press.

Top Stories

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

General News

PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.


Mission…to Alonnisos, a TNH Documentary

O oceanic you sing and sail White on your body and yellow on your chimeneas For you're tired of the filthy waters of the harbors You who loved the distant Sporades You who lifted the tallest flags You who sail clear through the most dangerous caves Hail to you who let yourself be charmed by the sirens Hail to you for never having been afraid of the Symplegades (Andreas Empeirikos)   What traveler has not been fascinated by the Greek islands, drawn by the Sirens’ song of a traveler’s dreams? TNH and our video show ‘Mission’ marked the change of the season by transporting viewers into the heart of summer.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.