China is building on a security pact it recently signed with Solomon Islands, which has alarmed the United States and its allies such as Australia as they fear a stepped-up military presence by Beijing. Australia's new centre-left government has made the Pacific Islands an early diplomatic priority.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, sworn in on Monday, said on Saturday his Labor government's plan includes a defence training school, support for maritime security, a boost in aid and re-engaging the region on climate change.
"We will be proactive in the region, we want to engage," he told reporters.
China's Wang Yi, on a tour of the Pacific seeking a 10-nation deal on security and trade, finished a visit to Samoa, where he met Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and signed documents including an "economic and technical cooperation agreement", Samoa said in a statement.
"Samoa and the People's Republic of China will continue to pursue greater collaboration that will deliver on joint interests and commitments," it said.
Photo: VAITOGI ASUISUI MATAFEO Caption: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) talks to Samoa Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa during an agreements signing ceremony between the two countries in Apia.