China confirms to assist Fiji for this year's elections.
China has confirmed that it will offer some form of assistance to Fiji for this year's promised elections.
China has confirmed that it will be be offering some form of assistance to Fiji for this year's promised elections, but a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy says no details have been confirmed.
But the Fiji government says that China is keen to help in any way it can and that a visiting delegation is happy with the country's progress towards elections.
Dr Marc Lanteigne is a China foreign policy scholar at Victoria University in Wellington, he told Jamie Tahana that the way the offer's been interpreted by the Fiji media leaves a lot to the imagination.
MARC LANTEIGNE: Well, it's a very interesting quote and obviously it can be interpreted in many ways. China's policy towards Fiji has been one of economic support. China has recognised Fiji as a potentially important regional trading partner and economic partner and certainly there have been some economic deals signed between the two over the past short while. That said though, China is rather anxious not to look too much like it is heavily involved in Fijian politics given the rather complicated situation and Fiji's relations with Australia and New Zealand. China has maintained that economic cooperation and economic assistance should be kept separate from domestic politics and has certainly not agreed with the Australia and New Zealand approach of economic sanctions arguing that this is not policy that China believes in. China at the same time knowing that it wants to maintain good relations - economic relations - with Australia and New Zealand. Also, it does not want to give the impression that it's attempting to interfere with those two countries policies and Fiji as well.
JAMIE TAHANA: Does [China] find itself in a bit of a difficult position with Fiji and Australia and New Zealand when both have quite strong views on each other here?
ML: Yes it is a very awkward situation. China does not want to give off the impression that it's attempting to, for example, shield Fiji from any kind of pressure from Australia or New Zealand or it certainly does not want to give the impression of being a spoiler. China has maintained that it does not want to be a partner to Fiji and to the greater South Pacific, but not do so in kind of an either or zero sum approach. China has also acknowledged that its aid programme differs from Australia and New Zealand, but China has been much more willing recently to cooperate and coordinate with other Pacific donor countries; the biggest case in point would be the recently announced joint project with New Zealand and China to assist with reworking Rarotonga's water works. So, China is really trying to avoid playing the role of spoiler and they're certainly trying to avoid looking like they're trying to play-off various sides. That's not in China's interests.
JT: So it wouldn't be as big of an offer as what could be interpreted from the Fiji media?
ML: Yeah, I think the way it was stated by the Fijian media is a bit vague and I don't think necessarily really reflects China's overall interests. Like, certainly China does want to remain a very strong economic partner for Fiji, I think there is a lot of potential for continued economic cooperation. But in the case of "assisting with the elections" or a case of participating in the process somehow; no, this is not going to be an issue. China has said that this is an issue that needs to be dealt with domestically, it has maintained that no outside party should get involved in what is essentially a domestic issue so that level of interference which seems to be implied by the Fijian government statement I don't think completely reflects the reality.
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