Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 07:49 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 07:49 | SYDNEY

China rejects Pacific leaders' request


Fergus Hanson


25 August 2009 12:16

I've been wanting to blog for a while on China's response to the recent Pacific Islands Forum. In the annual communique leaders adopted the 'Cairns compact on strengthening development coordination in the Pacific'. According to the compact:

The key objective of this compact will be to drive more effective coordination of available development resources from both Forum Island Countries and all development partners, centred on the aim of achieving real progress against the MDGs.

The compact was squarely aimed at the high levels of fragmentation in Pacific aid. As Bob McMullan noted in his address to the Lowy Institute conference that preceded the forum meeting:

I’ll take aid fragmentation as an example — we have all been aware for some years that aid in the Pacific is too fragmented and not coordinated well enough. Papua New Guinea for example had over one thousand aid activities in 2007, financed by 23 aid partners — and Vanuatu had 371 activities and 11 donors.

In a recent Policy Brief on China's aid program in the Pacific I argued China is one of those countries that still refuses to properly coordinate its aid. Even in countries like PNG — where China has signed up to the localised version of the Paris Declaration, which commits it to coordinate its aid — China still only occasionally attends donor coordination meetings. 

Unfortunately, China's response to the call from Pacific leaders wasn't overly promising or, for that matter, in keeping with its rhetoric about being responsive to the requests of Pacific governments. In an interview with Rowan Callick, Wang Yongqiu, from China's Foreign Ministry said 'We feel it is unnecessary to accept this multilateral co-ordination mechanism, but we need time to study it.'

His excuse for ignoring the call from island leaders to coordinate aid and reduce duplication suggested he wasn't exactly across the problem: 'All the aid projects should be received by the government, and it can't receive the same project — for instance, road construction — from two different donors.' 

So for the time being, it would seem, China won't be doing anything to help reduce the strain on Pacific governments.  

Photo by Flickr user luthor522, used under a Creative Commons license.