Fiji asks Beijing to retreat after ‘rendition’ tactics

Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.Credit: 60 Minutes

Rabuka and Tikoduadua made their comments in exclusive interviews with this masthead and 60 Minutes.


The disparity in the two leaders’ comments points to the difficult diplomatic tightrope Fiji is attempting to walk as it tries to satisfy Western and Chinese interests.

The contradictory comments came at the time when Fiji’s acting police commissioner joined other Pacific Island police chiefs in Australia to discuss how their forces could build on the relationship with the Australian Federal Police, which last year secured $370 million from the Albanese government to bolster police training and resources in the South Pacific.

The Fiji-China police memorandum of understanding has been described as China’s most extensive policing partnership agreement in the Pacific and a template for Beijing’s dealings with other nations’ police forces.

It came under fierce scrutiny during the Chinese police operation depicted in the 2017 video, which experts described as the “rendition” of 77 Chinese nationals accused of participating in cyber scams.

Fijian Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua.

Fijian Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua. Credit: 60 Minutes

The video, filmed by the Baishan City Public Security Bureau, a Chinese security agency, was unearthed by Australian National University China specialist Graeme Smith.

Amnesty International, and Fijian politicians and activists, have criticised the operation, which bypassed the Fijian legal system.

Associate Professor Smith said the video revealed Chinese security officials in Fiji “behaving as though they are in China”.

“The Fijian police are there, but only really in the background, and they are, to all intents and purposes, treating Fijian soil as Chinese soil. It is absolutely a ceding of sovereignty and… a very bad precedent that was set.

Graeme Smith, ANU China specialist.

Graeme Smith, ANU China specialist.Credit: 60 Minutes

“It’s a very disturbing path because these sorts of operations [involving Chinese authorities] are happening all over the world. Our team estimated this is happening twice a week, every week, all over the globe, but the Pacific example is a pretty concerning one.”

In a statement, the Chinese embassy in Fiji said that “the law enforcement and police co-operation between China and Fiji is professional, open and transparent.”

Smith said the video was created to impress senior Chinese officials and as a propaganda tool, with its captions describing how a Chinese police taskforce named “9:22” had crossed “over half the globe on direct chartered flight” to arrest suspects in Fiji and Indonesia.

“‘9:22’ Task Force will be one of the memorable events in Public Security History,” the video captions state.

A video still of Chinese police raids in Fiji in 2017.

A video still of Chinese police raids in Fiji in 2017.Credit: 60 Minutes

“No matter how far away, They [criminal suspects] will be arrested.”

The video also reveals that the operation was overseen by one of the Chinese government’s highest- ranking officials, Guo Shengkun, then the minister of public security.

Shengkun “gave a special attention to this matter and gave instructions and sent personnel to ensure safety”.

Chinese Communist Party official Guo Shengkun.

Chinese Communist Party official Guo Shengkun.

In his interview with 60 Minutes, Rabuka said he favoured partnering with Australian police because he was concerned about some of China’s practices.

In comments that will earn the ire of Beijing, he also warned the South Pacific could be destabilised by “the unwarranted influence… of the People’s Republic of China”.

Rabuka said this influence could “fracture some of the more stable associations of the past”, while also calling for China to retreat from neighbouring countries, including the Solomon Islands, where it is gaining influence.

“I hope they can do that, like a soft extraction, a peaceful extraction,” he said.


The Solomon Islands switched its diplomatic ties from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019 and has since signed a series of security, trade and infrastructure deals with the Chinese government.

In January, Nauru also switched its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan to China, securing a major diplomatic coup for Beijing.

Nauru was one of only a handful of countries to recognise Taiwan after years of diplomatic and economic pressure from Beijing that has whittled down its diplomatic partners, including some of Australia’s closest neighbours.

Rabuka claimed the former government of Frank Bainimarama had been seduced by China, but that he was far more cautious of Beijing’s overtures.

“I understand Australia and America, and I do not fully understand China’s agenda,” he said.

In response to the surge in interest in the region from the West and China, Rabuka said one of the greatest threats to Fiji’s security was the risk “that people can buy into our favour” by offering “goodies so that we just go and do whatever they do.”

“You can be influenced by fear, you can be influenced by reward. There are many ways to influence,” Rabuka said.

Watch the exclusive report on 60 Minutes at 8.30pm tonight.

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  • Source of information and images “brisbanetimes”

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