Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

China´s growing role in the South Pacific.



The old order in the South Pacific is changing in favor of China

Since World War II, Australia has been an increasing regional power in the Pacific. Specially during the last decade, the growing economy of Australia and its role in the region has been significant. 

However, since 2008, and due to the recesive international economic situation, Australia is trying to downsize its economic aid to the Pacific Region.

in that sense, there are fears Australia´s  foreign aid to its South Pacific neighbours could be in for a cut in next week’s budget.

Experts say the Asutralian aid cuts would leave the region open to an ever increasing Chinese influence in the Pacific.

In the past, Australia has committed to a doubling of its aid budget to about $8 billion by 2015, but there is a certain concern among experts that next week’s the Asutralian Government could slash that target.

From the tiniest islands to the bigger island states of the South Pacific, China is throwing its influence around, like for example:

a) in East Timor it is a multi-million dollar defence headquarters;

b) in the Cook Islands a big sporting complex

c) in Vanuatu the regional centre of the Melanesian spearhead group,

Fergus Hanson, from the Brookings Institute in Washington, has done four reports into China’s aid program in the region.  “If we take a starting point of about 2005 to the present, China has increased aid from a relatively modest amount – roundabout $30 million a year – up to around a level of around $200 million a year,” and he also said ” there’s different reports that say it’s got the most number of diplomats on the ground in the countries that it covers.”

What also worries Fergus Hanson is that much of China’s engagement is now delivered in the form of soft loans. Mr Hanson says this can hamper development rather than promote it. “In the case of a country like Tonga, for example, you’re talking about 30 per cent of the country’s GDP is actually accounted for in soft loans pledged by China,”  Mr. Hanson said, and added  “one consequence could be we’re pushed to help these countries get out of their debt situation. So I think that would certainly be something we’d want to avoid; having to help repay Chinese loans.”

Professor Richard Herr is the director for the Centre of International and Regional Affairs at the University of Fiji and says China plays by its own rules.
“China is not particularly good at working multilaterally and yet in the South Pacific area a lot of our relationships are multilateral,” Herr said .

There is also a sort of Diplomatic war between Continental China and Taiwan.  How so? Well.. Pacific nations may be miniscule and little known – the likes of Palau and Kiribati (pronounced Kiribass) are hardly household names – but they are vitally important in the diplomatic war between Beijing and Taiwan.  Six countries in the Pacific grant official recognition to Taiwan’s capital Taipei, and the Taiwanese do all they can to retain their loyalty.