Source: Robert Besser

APIA, Samoa: The new prime minister of the island nation of Samoa has said she will cancel a Chinese-financed port project.

Recently elected Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa expressed doubts about the benefits of the port for Samoa during the ongoing struggle between China and the United States.

Mataafa noted that China’s influence in the Pacific increased as the United States “moved out” of the region.

“There seems to be a renewed interest in the Pacific, which may be a good thing, but not necessarily,” Mataafa said, as quoted by Reuters.

Samoa is an island nation with a population of 200,000.

China had proposed financing construction of a $100 million wharf in Vaiusu Bay, which became an issue in the April elections.

Mataafa told Reuters in May that she would cancel the project, noting that Samoa is already heavily indebted to China.

In the past, Samoa has borrowed some $160 million from China.

“We’ve indicated that would not be a priority for us at this time and that there would be other areas that we would be more interested in,” Mataafa told Reuters, in an interview last week.

“I’m pleased the outgoing government had not reached a level of agreement with China where that is set in place.”

In response to the news from Samoa, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday that “China always adheres to the principle of mutual respect and consultation on an equal footing in conducting foreign cooperation,” the statement said.

“We will continue to strengthen friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields with the new Samoan government, in accordance with the above principles, to benefit the two countries and peoples,” added the Chinese Foreign Ministry.