Fiji to upgrade ports and shipyards

The prime minister of the island nation of Fiji, which is located in the Pacific Ocean, was quoted as suggesting that China might extend assistance to Fiji in the development of its shipyards and ports. This statement opens the door to the prospect of further links with Beijing in an area of the economy that is extremely important to Fiji.

Sitiveni Rabuka, the Prime Minister of Fiji, has expressed his concern on China’s growing presence in the Pacific region. However, he has praised Beijing’s track record of providing assistance to Fiji in the fight against Covid-19, the improvement of agriculture, and the modernization of infrastructure. While China’s military presence in the Pacific region continues to grow, Rabuka has maintained a cautious stance.

The renovation of Fiji’s port facilities and shipyards is a “key focus” for sustainable economic development, according to Rabuka, who made this statement to the parliament on Wednesday. This statement was delivered following Rabuka’s meeting with Xi Jinping, the President of China, the week before.

A statement made by the Premier of Fiji stated, “I anticipate potential collaboration with China in that endeavor,” highlighting the ability of the Asian powerhouse to construct “globally competitive shipbuilding.”

The United governments of America and its allies are engaged in a competition with China for influence in the Pacific region. Fiji and other Pacific governments have been working to find a way to strike a delicate balance between the two contending powers.

During the Apec forum that took place in San Francisco a week ago, Rabuka had the chance to meet Xi for the very first time. Xi was present at the event. In a statement that was released on Wednesday, he added that Fiji was in agreement with China’s objective of achieving global security and that Beijing’s aspiration to construct a belt and road “aligns with our nation’s development agenda.”

While Rabuka was in Australia a month ago, he was asked about China’s engagement in the security of the South Pacific region. In response, he stated that he chose to engage with democratic “traditional friends” during his trip to Australia.

It has been reported by a ship design company based in Australia that Rabuka had previously made an effort to secure the participation of Australia, which is the nation that offers the most assistance to Fiji, in the shipyard project. Media reported that Sea Transport chairman Stuart Ballantyne indicated that his business had been approached by Fiji with a proposal to construct a fleet of commercial ships that could be manufactured locally. Ballantyne has stated that his company has been approached with this proposition.

The office of Rabuka was approached by Fiji Ports in order to provide answers to queries concerning China’s involvement; however, the office did not respond to media’ requests for comment after they were made. An additional point to consider is that the Chinese Embassy in Fiji did not respond to a request for a response that was made.

China has been making efforts to develop its commercial and security links with the countries that are located in the Pacific Islands. One of these efforts was the signing of a security contract with the Solomon Islands. Because of this, the United States of America has expressed its worry. Following the conclusion of this, the United States of America entered into a defense agreement with the nation of Papua New Guinea.

After concluding his meeting with Rabuka the previous week, Xi remarked that China’s stance regarding the nations of the Pacific Islands absolutely respects the sovereignty and independence of those countries without attaching any political conditions or making any false promises. This was stated at the conclusion of the meeting.

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