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International relations

Kiribati runway project in focus as China's Wang Yi tours region

Small islands in South Pacific play big role in geopolitical chess match

The airstrip on Kanton Island in Kiribati was built by the U.S. military.    © 2022 Planet Labs PBC

BEIJING/SYDNEY -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's 10-day tour of Pacific island nations shows China's efforts to grow its regional presence in places like Kiribati, where a World War II-era airstrip symbolizes these remote countries' geopolitical significance.

In Kiribati's capital Tarawa on Friday, Wang signed documents on cooperation in building infrastructure and fighting the effects of climate change, saying "to help developing countries is to help China itself," according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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