Fiji is rethinking its friends

Briefly: Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said yesterday (Wednesday) he’s reconsidering his country’s long-standing security arrangements with China.

Fiji’s partnership with China kicked off in 2011 under Rabuka’s predecessor, who had initially taken power in a 2006 coup. Among other things, the arrangement offers training in China for Fijian police officers.

But Rabuka (a two-time coup leader himself) is now asking, “if our systems and our values differ, what cooperation can we get from them?”

Intrigue’s take: A year since China signed a security pact with Solomon Islands:

  • 🇳🇿 New Zealand is now finalising a defence agreement with Fiji
  • 🇺🇸 The US is inking or renewing pacts with PNG, Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands, opening new embassies in Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, and new bases in the nearby Philippines, and
  • 🇦🇺 Australia is finalising security pacts with PNG and Vanuatu

By diplomacy’s standards, this is lightning fast. But folks in the Pacific have increasingly bristled at being treated like a geopolitical football. So yes, speed and scale is key. So is sensitivity.

Also worth noting:

  • China has previously said the security agreements benefit Fiji, and it hopes to continue the collaboration.
  • Rabuka won a tense election in December, ending his predecessor’s 16 years in office.