China Daily

Fuss about policing deal much ado about nothing

Pat Conroy, Australia’s minister for defense industry and minister for international development and the Pacific, pledged A$35 million ($23.13 million) in policing assistance to neighboring East Timor on Monday during an official visit. The promise of funding comes amid rising concerns in Canberra and Washington that Beijing is seeking to increase its influence in the region through police and security cooperation with Pacific island countries.

It is unnecessary for Washington and Canberra to feel nervous about China’s cooperation with Pacific island countries. China seeks to develop cooperative relations in all fields with any country it has diplomatic relations with, and its cooperation does not target any third country.

Yet China being in early talks with Papua New Guinea on a potential security and policing deal, following an earlier one with the Solomon Islands, seems to have set the proverbial cat among pigeons, with Washington and Canberra already displaying unease at Beijing’s cooperative outreach in the Pacific.

China reportedly approached Papua New Guinea in September with an offer to assist its police force with training, equipment and surveillance technology, with talks continuing last week.

“We deal with China only on the economic and trade level at this point. They are one of our biggest trading partners. But they have offered to assist our policing and security on the internal security side,” Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko said. Talks are still in the early stage he said, with Papua New Guinea assessing if the Chinese offer duplicates security and policing assistance already being offered by Australia and the United States. Tkachenko said Papua New Guinea would not do anything to jeopardize its defense and security relationships with Australia or the US.

There can be no denying the quality and effectiveness of China’s public security apparatus. It is natural for some countries to seek to learn from China’s ways to maintain public security. It is also natural for China to offer to share its expertise in police training and its experience in ways to maintain sound public security with other countries.

As a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said at a regular news briefing in Beijing on Monday, Papua New Guinea is a good friend and partner of China, and both sides have cooperated in various fields, including police cooperation, for a long time.

China is not concerned about how Washington and Canberra view its cooperation with Pacific island countries, as no matter what they may claim to the contrary, such cooperation is on an equal and fair basis and does not infringe on the interests of either the US or Australia.

China will continue to work with Papua New Guinea and other Pacific island countries to promote cooperation in related fields and advance common development.

Editorial, China Daily

Categories China Daily Opinion