First blow to Beijing by Fiji’s new prime minister

The new government scraps a policing agreement with China. During the election campaign, Rabuka had pledged to move Fiji away from China. The new government is turning to its traditional partners, Australia and New Zealand. The South Pacific is a key area in the geopolitical competition between China and the United States.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Fijian government under newly elected Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has ended a training and exchange agreement with China.

In last month’s election campaign, Rabuka had promised to move Fiji away from China, stressing that his country's political institutions and justice system were democratic and different from those of China.

For this reason, Fiji plans to turn again towards countries with which it has more common ground, namely Australia and New Zealand.

After the 14 December election, Rabuka managed to form a coalition government that ousted Frank Bainimarama, who had led the island nation for 16 years following a military coup.

During his rule, Fiji forged stronger ties with China, while seeking to maintain good relations with the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The South Pacific region holds great strategic importance in the geopolitical confrontation between China and the United States.

In May, China signed a secret security pact with the Solomon Islands, possibly giving Chinese warships the right to stop and refuel in the country’s ports, something that Solomon Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavaris has repeatedly denied.

Unlike the Solomons, the other South Pacific states have rejected China's offer of a wide regional trade and security pact.

Washington, Canberra and Wellington have expressed concern over China’s activism in the region.

The US and its allies fear that China will succeed in establishing military outposts in the South Pacific as it has done in the South China Sea.

From the perspective of containing China, Beijing expansion into this region would threaten the sea lanes the US Navy uses between Hawaii and the Western Pacific.