Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 12:43 | SYDNEY
Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 12:43 | SYDNEY

The Pacific from inside China


Fergus Hanson


15 September 2009 10:37

I just got back from a conference hosted by the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies on East Asia and the South Pacific. There are a few posts I'd like to publish from the trip over the next few days, but here are a few impressions from the conference and meetings with various academics and officials working on Pacific affairs:

  • You wouldn't expect the South Pacific to feature in any significant way in the foreign policy calculations of any world power and China is no different. While there seems to be a small group of people interested in the region there are very few in think tanks or even in the Foreign Ministry following the Pacific exclusively.
  • The informal and unannounced truce with Taiwan was widely acknowledged and there even seems to be a minor internal discussion over its impact. Some argued that Chinese aid to the Pacific, which is often motivated by competition with Taiwan for diplomatic influence in the region, could probably be reduced somewhat.
  • Beyond the old tussle with Taiwan, there are only a few niche areas China is focused on in regard to the Pacific. Concern over attacks on the Chinese diaspora is one example, though this concern seems to go beyond the Pacific, with the Foreign Ministry set to expand its already large headquarters to accommodate a consular and media wing. Protecting expanding Chinese business interests (particularly in the few Pacific states with resources) is a related concern, given the destruction of Chinese businesses associated with the riots in Solomon Islands, Tonga and PNG.