Tensions over Chinese influence loom large at Pacific Island Forum

Tensions over Chinese influence loom large at Pacific Island Forum”

"The 500 million AUD we're investing for the Pacific's renewable energy and its climate change and disaster resilience builds on the 300 million AUD (202.5 million USD) for 2016-2020". The funding package will be re-directed from existing programs and is in no way considered additional support for the region.

Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama, who presided over the 2017 United Nations climate talks, directly appealed to Australia to transition away from coal "to energy sources that do not contribute to climate change" during an informal meeting in Tuvalu on Monday.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Morrison pointed to Australia's emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement and financial support for Pacific countries grappling with climate change.

The money is aimed at helping Pacific countries invest in renewable energy, as well as improving infrastructure in roads, hospitals and schools to withstand extreme weather events.

"We face an existential threat that you don't face and challenges we expect your governments and people to more fully appreciate".

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says his views until now on the place of Australia and New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum are well known but they are in a new era in which both countries are attempting to re-engage in a more respectful and inclusive way and he warmly welcomes that.

Until Mr Morrison arrives, Australia is represented at the meeting by Alex Hawke, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, who took part in a fatele (traditional dance) during last night's opening ceremony.

A little bit of politics involved Pacific Islanders have declared a climate emergency, calling for stronger action by the world's developed nations, including Australia - which has so far, refused to strengthen its emissions targets, even as it robustly protects its coal mining industry.

But Pacific leaders already in Funafuti appear more focused on making their case directly to their counterparts, Mr Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, on Wednesday.

It also pushed back against efforts to bring national policies in line with the latest science on 1.5C from the International Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) report on 1.5C.

In a statement following Monday's informal discussions, seen by CHN, the Pacific small island developing states said climate change represented "the single greatest [threat] to the security of Pacific island countries".

Australia's stance has created tensions with its neighbors just as China is looking to increase its sway in the region.

"A number of Pacific island countries, not all of them, have access to other partners, including China, which can provide them with as much finance as they may need".

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