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China to Propose Major Collaboration Deal with Pacific Islands

    China to Propose Major Collaboration Deal with Pacific Islands
    Updated May 26, 2022
    Image credit: news

    Facts

    • China is reportedly proposing a major initiative with Pacific Island nations in policing, maritime cooperation and cybersecurity, while also developing a scholarship program for more than 2k workers and young diplomats.[1]
    • Drafts of the documents were reportedly sent to 10 nations prior to a meeting next week in Fiji, when Pacific Island leaders are scheduled to gather with the PRC's foreign minister, Wang Yi.[1]
    • The President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in turn urged 21 Pacific Island leaders to reject the PRC proposal, out of fear it could trigger a "cold war" between China and the West.[2]
    • The US State Dept. also criticized the proposal, stating it "could only seek to fuel regional international tensions and increase concerns over Beijing's expansion of its internal security apparatus to the Pacific."[3]
    • On Thurs., China denied plans to build a military base in the Solomon Islands. Both countries discussed collaborating on major Road and Belt Initiative (BRI) projects as part of the Chinese FM's regional tour.[4]
    • In Apr., the PRC and the Solomon Islands reached a security deal which was the first of its kind in the region. The move drew concern from Australia.[5]

    Spin

    Anti-China narrative

    The PRC's push into the South Pacific is destabilizing, and will require the US and Australia to adopt a new security approach as China grabs a foothold in Oceania. This new framework may lead the Pacific Islands to become a hotbed for a conflict between the US and China.

    Pro-China narrative

    China is a popular and supportive regional partner in the Pacific. In fact, Australia and other Western powers act as hegemonic colonists, intimidating neighbors who don't follow its orders. Beijing offers a wide range of economic and security development options without the demanding political conditions of the West.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Pacific Island nations have every right to play both sides. The current security situation in the South Pacific makes it possible for less influential countries to benefit from the angst of regional powers. The Solomon Islands and its neighbors can leverage this to maximize aid from both China and the West.

    Cynical narrative

    None of the powers with an eye on Oceania - including the US, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Japan - are taking the the true security concerns of the Pacific Islands seriously. The region is threatened by severe climate impacts, but these powers are more concerned with their own self interests. The security and future of the Pacific must be determined by Pacific Island countries on their own.

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