PRC Agreements with Pacific Islands Yield Mixed Results

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The Facts

  • After a high-level meeting on Mon., China and 10 Pacific island nations failed to agree on Beijing's proposed draft communiqué and five-year action plan for trade and security cooperation.

  • Nevertheless, the parties have reportedly agreed on several non-security areas, including economic recovery, and establishing centers for agriculture and disaster management. Talks are set to continue to align mutual expectations.

The Spin

Pro-China narrative

China has every right to build new partnerships in the Pacific, including in the area of security. It's the US that already boasts several military bases in the region, and the Quad Alliance puts Beijing further on the spot. The Pacific nations not wanting to be made the pawns of geopolitical interests is understandable, but it's the West that's responsible for this. And unlike Washington and its allies, China is aiming to score mainly through trade.

Anti-China narrative

By continuing to grow in military and economic strength, China poses an even greater threat to the rules-based world order and universal values than Russia. This makes it all the more necessary now to rein in Beijing's all-too-obvious plan to expand its military footprint and sphere of influence in the Pacific. Now is the time for Washington and its allies to act decisively but with strategic prudence to defend the open and inclusive international system.

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 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.

Establishment split



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