China has no desire to take part in a “geopolitical competition” over influence of Pacific island nations , Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday in Tonga. Wang is on a marathon tour of the region and delivered his assurance after meeting with his Tongan counterpart Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu. “China has no intention of competing with anyone, let alone engaging in geopolitical competition, and has never established a so-called sphere of influence,” Wang said, according to a Chinese government readout. He added that “some people” had attacked and tried to discredit China’s engagement in the region, in an apparent veiled reference to the US and Australia. Wang denied Beijing was trying to deepen its military engagement in the Pacific. Tensions between China and US allies in the Pacific have increased with the signing of a security pact between Beijing and Solomon Islands. While the final wording of the deal has not been released, a leaked draft said it would allow Beijing to deploy security personnel to Solomon Islands in the wake of domestic unrest. Wang’s 10-day tour of eight Pacific countries has been seen as evidence of Beijing’s growing ambitions in a region where the US and Australia are traditional partners. That outreach was dealt a setback on Monday when several nations rejected a sweeping trade and security deal proposed by Wang. Biden launches IPEF, with 12 Asia-Pacific economies signing on There had been signs that some Pacific nations were uneasy with China’s expanding role. Micronesian President David Panuelo criticised Beijing’s plans, warning they could spark a cold war, according to Australia’s ABC News. Last week Fiji became the first Pacific island nation to sign on to a wide-ranging economic initiative launched by the US. It then signed three economic pacts with China on Monday, a sign that Pacific nations may seek ways to balance relations with the world’s two largest economies. Wang’s visit coincided with a visit to Fiji by Australia’s new foreign minister Penny Wong, who pledged her country would “remain a critical development partner” with a “no strings-attached” approach, in what appeared to be a veiled jab at the Chinese government.