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Pacific is our island home too, says China

China has called on Australia to drop the Cold War attitude to its growing role in the Pacific Islands and recognise that no one country has a “sphere of influence” in the region.

Commenting on plans by the Australian government to help Papua New Guinea build a navy base, which were confirmed in a speech by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the Asia Society this week, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said China was pursuing “wide-ranging friendly and co-operative ties with the Pacific Island countries”.

Morrison told the Asia ­Society the Pacific Islands were like “family” to Australia, saying he wanted to strengthen its ­engagement in the region ­“because this is our home”.

Speaking at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press conference, Lu said China rejected the ­argument that it did not have a legitimate role in the region. “The Pacific Islands are no ‘sphere of influence’ for any country,” he said.

“We hope that the relevant parties could discard the outdated mindsets of Cold War mentality and zero sum game (and) objectively view China’s relations with Pacific Island countries.”

Lu said China’s increasing ties with PNG and the Pacific Islands were based on its approach of promoting South-South co-operation and were not aimed at targeting any “third party”. He said China’s goal was to “help the Pacific Island countries realise peace, stability and prosperity”.

He said China regarded its co-operation with the region as being ­“mutually beneficial”.

Lu’s comments came as China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi hit out at criticism of his country’s aid spending in the Pacific, insisting it came with “no strings attached”.

“In providing assistance, China fully respects the will of governments and people of the countries in question,” Wang said.


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