WELLINGTON — Niue’s Premier Dalton Tagelagi said on Thursday his tiny Pacific island nation needed to be cautious in dealing with any countries, including China, that offered assistance.
Speaking at a news conference after meeting New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Tagelagi said that while Niue has had a relationship with China, it had not signed up to any agreements after meeting Beijing’s foreign minister in May.
He met virtually with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi while Wang was in Fiji seeking a deal with almost a dozen Pacific island countries covering policing, security and data communication.
Pacific island nations are being wooed by China, which is promoting trade and security arrangements that worry the United States and its allies, while Washington is also seeking greater financial and diplomatic engagement with the region.
Niue’s discussions with China were “all about technical support,” Tagelagi said, adding that Beijing had offered to help with projects such as developing the country’s roads.
The offer for road assistance “is there but as always, we have got to be very cautious in any of the dealings that we have. And it’s not only China but also other diplomatic partners that we have similar arrangements with,” he said.
Niue, an island some 2,800 km (1,800 miles) north of New Zealand with just 1,620 people, is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand.
Tagelagi and Ardern reaffirmed their countries’ friendship and highlighted areas of cooperation, such as climate change and the preservation of Niue’s culture and language.
Ardern said in a statement the two had discussed their shared commitment to the Blue Pacific Continent, the region that includes both the Pacific Islands and their oceans, and to Niue’s efforts to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. (Reporting by Lucy Craymer in Wellington; Editing by William Mallard)