STAFF REPORTER | Radio New Zealand
BEIJING - China has called on Australia to drop its ‘Cold War attitude' to its growing role in the Pacific Islands and recognise that no one country has a sphere of influence in the region.
Commenting on plans by the Australian government to help Papua New Guinea build a naval base, foreign affairs spokesman Lu Kang said China was pursuing "wide-ranging friendly and cooperative ties with the Pacific Island countries".
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said last week that the Pacific islands are like "family", saying he wants to strengthen his country's engagement in the region because this is their home.
However, The Australian newspaper reported that Mr Lu rejected any argument that China does not have a legitimate role in the region.
He said China hoped that the relevant parties can discard out-dated mindsets of Cold War mentality and zero sum games and objectively view China's relations with Pacific countries.
Mr Lu said China's increasing ties with PNG and the Pacific islands were based on its approach of promoting south-south co-operation and were not aimed at targeting any third party.
He said China's goal was to "help the Pacific Island countries realise peace, stability and prosperity".