China dragging Pacific back to 'colonial days' - expert

The leader of a media watchdog is urging Pacific leaders to "speak out" over Chinese attacks on the press.

At the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea, only journalists from China's state-run agencies were allowed to attend Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting with Pacific leaders.

Pacific Freedom Forum chair Monica Miller says the situation is "appalling" and a "slap in the face" to journalists.

"China is trying to exercise what it is allowed to do back in its own backyard here in our part of the world, where we have open and free media," she says.

"It seems as if we are going back to the colonial days and we have China trying to muscle the press."

Pita Ligaiula, a journalist with the Pacific Island News Association based in Fiji, said Chinese influence was among the big issues affecting the region - and it was important to be able to inform the public about its intentions.

"I come all the way from Fiji only to be told we are not invited to cover this," he said.

Ms Miller wants Pacific leaders to speak out about what happened.

"I'm just surprised that no one has spoken up except for the media," she says.

"Rather than us depending on our Chinese colleagues to tell us what happened, we wanted to be there."

Reuters / Newshub.