(Australian Associated Press)
Pacific islands are working towards establishing a unified voice, with plans to create a long-term strategy for the vast region amid tensions about geopolitical competition.
Pacific Islands Forum secretary-general Meg Taylor says the region’s leaders will look at creating a 2050 Blue Pacific strategy for discussion at next year’s meeting in Vanuatu.
It will look at the institutions, systems and partnerships the area wants in order to strengthen Pacific regionalism.
“Do we want to realise an ocean continent? Are we content to let others divide us?” Ms Taylor told other leaders in Tuvalu on Wednesday.
“Will we accept a future in which we are, as somebody recently described us, nothing but a vast emptiness of Pacific waters?”
While the region’s security in the face of climate change is the focus of the forum, the tug-of-war of external influences is an issue also on the boil.
Ms Taylor says the region has to unite.
“Where climate change threatens our survival, multilateralism is being challenged, and geopolitical competition in our region seeks to divide us,” she said.
There are concerns over China’s increasing presence in the region, with delegates present in Tuvalu as dialogue partners.
But a handful of Pacific nations are allies with Taiwan rather than China, and the US has attempted to hold off the Asian giant’s spread.
It will no doubt be raised as an issue if Prime Minister Scott Morrison holds talks with the US delegation while in Tuvalu to attend the forum.