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Fiji PM orders removal of Chinese police officers

Australian Associated Press -

Fiji's Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has ordered the repatriation of Chinese police officers in the country due to concerns that China's growing presence in the region could undermine democratic systems in the Pacific.

"Those officers working in our headquarters were repatriated. We have looked at that and there's no need for us to have (Chinese) officers embedded" in Fiji, Rabuka said in an interview with the ABC on Thursday.

The Chinese police were stationed in Fiji under a memorandum of understanding signed between Fiji's security forces and China's public security ministry in 2011.

The Fijian prime minister, who in the past has questioned the policing agreement with China, said: "I did not know how that came about and I was uncomfortable because we have different legal systems and policing and investigating methods."

However, Rabuka, who came to power at the end of 2022, said Fijian police officers will continue training in China under the memorandum.

Despite his distancing from China, the prime minister added that he didn't blame many countries in the Pacific for turning towards Beijing due to the substantial investments it has made in recent years in the Solomon Islands.

During the past year, Fiji has sought closer ties with countries such as Australia, the United States and France, in a departure from the pro-China policy of former leader Frank Bainimarama.

China's growing influence has made the US reinforce its diplomacy in the Pacific.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Fiji in February 2022, the first visit to the Pacific nation by a top American diplomat in 36 years.

In 2022, China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands, which includes sending Chinese security forces at the request of the country's government. Beijing also tried to sign a multilateral security agreement with another 10 nations but the negotiations fell through.

Australian Associated Press

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