#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: More Australian-based analysis: 'Let's not drive Fiji further into China's arms'

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Australian-based analysis: 'Let's not drive Fiji further into China's arms'

By Richard Herr and Anthony Bergin for The Australia, reprinted by the Solomon Star

Canberra should lose no time in repairing relations with Suva.

Fiji celebrated the 40th anniversary of its independence from Britain last week.


Sitting under the protection of a pavilion, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, ministers and the diplomatic corps were untroubled by the teeming rain that soaked the parading troops and schoolchildren who provided the spectacle for the occasion.


But not all the storm clouds were over Suva's Albert Park that day. Australia's high commissioner was missing from the diplomatic reserved seats, a casualty of tit-for-tat expulsions in the course of the troubled relationship between Canberra and Suva since the December 2006 military coup.


The entire planet is making some adjustment to China's emergence as a rising global power. But
Australia's four-year attempt to isolate and penalise the government of Bainimarama has pushed Fiji more quickly and fully into Beijing's arms.

Arms has a double meaning here; Fiji's President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has just returned from a state visit to China, where he visited a major arms manufacturing plant.


The military sanctions imposed on Fiji by its traditional friends (Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US) have left Fiji's military with few options for resupply or modernisation.


Speculation is rife in Suva that Fiji will soon decide to procure Chinese sourced armaments.
This would likely be a long-term commitment to the Chinese supply chain.

The Bainimarama government also has a significant military personnel training offer from China.


There's every chance that a substantial commitment could soon be made to a five-year cadet officer training program that would at least equal the pre-2006 levels for Australia, New Zealand and Britain combined.


These developments are a direct result of some of the ill-advised sanctions against Fiji, rather than any efforts by China to discredit Fiji's ties with Australia.


The affection that built up over the years between Australian officers and Fiji's military has been lost.


Senior Fiji officers regret that the brothers-in-arms status that they once enjoyed with their Australian counterparts isn't available and won't be offered to their junior officers.


Our closest Western allies in the region, the US and France, haven't gone as far down the military sanctions path as has Australia and have maintained routine contact with Fiji's armed forces.


Our leading Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, have undermined travel sanctions by allowing all personnel banned by Australia to travel abroad via their countries.


In the process, they have reinforced Fiji's "look north" policy to cultivate new partners to offset the estrangement from its traditional friends.


At a recent meeting at the UN with Fiji's Foreign Minister Inoke Kubuabola, Hillary Clinton, recognised the 2014 date for elections in Fiji is unlikely to change.


The US Secretary of State offered to assist Fiji in returning to parliamentary democracy by that date.


Despite its doubts, Australia shouldn't wait until 2014 to test the sincerity of Fiji's commitment to elections.
That would only make Bainimarama's government feel it has succeeded despite Australia, and not because of Fiji's relationship with an old friend.

Last week's national day celebrations in Suva may have heralded a new focus for Fiji's independence, not from Britain but from Australia.
If this trend is to be reversed, both sides should talk urgently.

Richard Herr is the author of Time for a Fresh Approach: Australia and Fiji Relations Post-abrogation, Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Anthony Bergin is the research director at ASPI.

15 comments:

  1. The Fijian media still call Bainimarama the "prime minister", which he is not. Perhaps The Dictator self appointed prime minister.

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  2. Unfortunately Herr & Bergin are merely latest victims of their environment & conditioning.

    My suggestion is they spend some waking hours in the company of career military personel? Hopefully may eventually dawn on them that these people have different mindsets to
    academics & diplomats?

    Like talking finer points of ballet to a 2nd rower.

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  3. Are Herr and Bergin's implying that Australia act like China?

    That is,Australia should embrace traitors with open arms and turn a bling eye to Treason, murder, tortures and cheer the suppression of basic human and democratic rights in the interest of regional strategic power?

    Both Herr and Bergin are stuck in the cold war era of isms.They are out of touch with current UN advances of good accountable democratic governance.

    In addition, there have been rapid advances through technologies of global cooperation to lift the awareness of basic human rights and to empower citizens to bring bad leadership to justice through the ICC.

    Why should Australia "retest" the sincerity of the traitors to hold elections in 2014? Where have these two guys been for the last 6 years where everyone bar the unpopular communist Chinese has urged or offered help for Voreqe return to early elections only to get lied to?

    Herr and Bergin's arguements are out of touch with current trends and espectations of modern society. If they term their views as a "fresh approach" then it brings to question the type of misguided thinking that goes on at the ASPI.

    Can someone please instruct the ASPI to include Good Governance and especially elements such as ehthical and moral standards into planning and formulating strategic policies.

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  4. Ano 3:14.

    Well put & accurate.

    Unfortunately serial wankers like this prize pair are currently exerting an adverse & dangerous influence of AUS foreign policy regarding Fiji.

    Furthermore like ONA & others they don't take kindly towards criticism - those who disagree - when questioned all adapt classic Canberra (Ostrich) position.

    That reported head of ASPI could put his name on this dribble pretty well illustrates how dysfuctional AUS policy towards Fiji has become. (is).

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  5. Nah the argument is the reality of the sitiuation as far Oz interest is concerned. Face it Bainimarama is in control and is not to give it up for nobody.

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  6. so apparently the reaction Aus Nz US aand EU etc should have taken is a mild response with a warm hug and pretend noty to really notice the coup.I have rarely seen such a spinelss bunch of hypocrates in my life who are soo quick to trade off fijians and thier country because of the threats to look north. If the is militrary really think that it servces their country to do that then they will do it anyway. This is now just like africa where they will try to take money and arms etc from anyone who offers , they would take from iran and north korea i dare say.That says much more baout the thinking behind this regime than it does the sanctions regime.

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  7. POST-ABROGATION?

    Having a popular acceptance and moving forward as a political decision rather than a legal decision is one thing, and is workable and practical if there is a will.

    But post-abrogation hello? I can understand people in Fiji accepting post-abrogation as there remains a state of emergency, so put up and shut up.

    But the International community have accepted the legal position that the constitution has been abrogated, i.e. given that recognition when there is a court judgement in Fiji's own court and in Fiji's own constitution definition that it is an unabrogatable document.....

    Even Fiji Times did not file a case in court to challenge the decree under the so called abrogated constitution.

    Fore this reason, cut all bullshit out and let us just agree to disagree and go publically to tell the regime there are politicians ready to accept the new approach, but please rush through the process for elections. As for the RFMF, they will have a role to play in the security council and in some other places that they see their services are required.

    But for gods sake, go out and do that immediately, and if they cannot than call for an election under the legal framework i.e. the 1997 constitution.... and now.

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  8. It is not a good idea to swoop down to where China operates. We in Oz do not have the political option of a one party dictatorship that China seems to enjoy. We stand for an open, free society governed by the rule of law. We will therefore never be able to compete with the unsavory methods the Chines can use to further their international ambitions. And we should be proud of it.

    How to deal with Frank? The way forward is to lift the travel ban and arrest him the moment he steps on Aussie soil. There is enough material from Andrew Hughes' investigation to prosecute him in the international criminal court for human rights violations, torture and murder.

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  9. Anon 10:14

    Maaaaan dat is a mouthful. Let me see: open & free society and da rule of law. Can you tell me what is open society, than what is free and please do explain what is dis rule of law?

    I thought Oz, NZ, China, Pakistan, Fiji etc. all have laws that govern the everyone are expected to follow.

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  10. The fact that China's Government is not elected either, is the very reason Fijians need to remove Frank Bainimarama and his illegal Regime.
    The World, instead of being accepting of china, should resist it more, if only to bring about the downfall of Communism, like the U.S.S.R.

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  11. The fact that China's Government is not elected either, is the very reason Fijians need to remove Frank Bainimarama and his illegal Regime.
    The World, instead of being accepting of china, should resist it more, if only to bring about the downfall of Communism, like the U.S.S.R.

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  12. A tall order indeed Mark, given that the super powers of democracy basically survive on trade with Chaina. Easier said than done.

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  13. Someone quoting Hillary that the 2014 election date was unlikely to change???

    Does this mean that the regime everyone can believe the promises of Bainimarama this time?

    Not too long ago,that same person was promising an election in 2009 and...and...and...lasulasulevu???

    Get real Inoke...a photo op with Hillary still does not lend credibility to the "castle of lies" that was distatefully thrust upon the nation on December 2006.

    This is not to say that we do not welcome the elections..the sooner the better..However,there will not be any gurantees from the public of an Immunity Decree for the traitors for all the crimes committed since 2006.

    The Immunity Decree from prosecutions of criminal acts is totally out of the question because if George Speight is serving his time for the same crimes then Voreqe and cohorts will too.There is no way out this time because the public are determined that they will face their Waterloo.

    Herr and Bergin must understand that national and international reconciliations with the illegal junta are also out of the question because they must face justice first.

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  14. @ Anon 6:41.

    Believe its reached the stage where even the possibility of an Immunity Decree has passed its used by date.

    Which leaves only 2 options? Outside military intervention - change from within via ruling military council.

    Something must give - quickly -looming humanitarian crisis within Sugar makes it imperative.

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  15. Herr Hitler has got into bed with the other racist Lord Haw Haw of Horowhenua - all for a few sheckles to their pension from the human rights abusing junta - what parasites?

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