29 May 2013

China treads carefully over Fiji says China academic

4:48 am on 29 May 2013

China is treading carefully in its relationship with Fiji, according to a China foreign policy scholar at Wellington's Victoria University.

Dr Marc Lanteigne, was commenting on meetings today between Fiji's prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama and China's top leaders President Xi Jin Ping and Premier Li Keqiang.

The Chinese government has described the trip as a working visit at the invitation of the premier to attend an international trade fair and a summit of the Global Services Forum.

The Fiji government says the visit underlines Fiji's regional leadership.

Dr Lanteigne says the meetings with top Chinese leadership are very significant and Beijing sees Fiji as a keystone voice in the region.

"China's also been very careful not to give the impression that the increasingly improved relationship with the Fijian government is all about politics.China has argued its continuing economic support for Fiji should not be necessarily construed as direct political support."

Dr Lanteigne says China has made it very clear that it wants to be a partner in the region, not a great power seeking to push out traditional friends and allies.