China is not seeking a sphere of influence in Pacific Ocean island states, President Xi Jinping told the visiting prime minister of Vanuatu amid fears in Western capitals of China’s growing role in the region.
China has offered to help developing countries, including those in the Pacific, and many see Chinese lending as the best way to develop their economies. Critics say Chinese loans can lead countries into a debt trap, which Beijing denies.
The United States and Australia have looked on with particular concern at China’s growing role in the Pacific. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit the Solomon Islands next week.