China's aid to the Pacific countries has no political ties and is not aimed at any third party, says the country's Foreign Ministry, after a group of experts said that China had become the second largest aid donor in China. the South Pacific.
The value of donations and concessional loans from China of 1.3 billion dollars since 2011 amounts to 6,600 million dollars from Australia, figures compiled by the Lowy Institute of Australia, but it is more than the 1.2 billion dollars from New Zealand.
China's spending, criticized by many of its neighbors for building islands in the South China Sea, accounts for almost 9 percent of total aid donations in the South Pacific.
If the promised aid is included, China's pledges amount to $ 5.9 billion, or almost a third of all aid pledged to the 14 countries in the region by 62 donors.
"As a developing country, China perfectly understands the special difficulty that the Pacific island countries face in achieving sustainable development," the ministry said in a statement to Reuters.
China "provides the assistance it can on the basis of respecting the wishes of island nations without linking political conditions, vigorously promoting socioeconomic development," he added.
"China's aid aims to promote the well-being of people in island nations and strengthen their ability to develop sustainably, without seeking any personal benefit, and is not aimed at any third party," the ministry said.
Lowy's numbers, which do not include New Zealand's contributions since March 2017, also show that China rubs shoulders with Taiwan to use aid money as a means to cultivate diplomatic ties in a region that hosts a third of the allies. of Taiwan.
China considers that the autonomous and democratic government of Taiwan is nothing more than a rebel province, without the right to diplomatic relations.
China "expects the relevant side to abandon 'zero-sum thinking' and unprovoked suspicion, and do more for the sake of peace, stability and development for Pacific island nations," he added. ministry, without giving more details.
Australia and the United States have begun a new campaign to counter the growing influence of China in the Pacific.
On Thursday, Australia promised radio equipment and would help build offices in parliament in Apia, the capital of Samoa, the latest promise of aid in the Pacific islands, where China and Australia have been increasing eye-for-eye donations.