#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: US rattled by presence of China in the Pacific

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

US rattled by presence of China in the Pacific

Voice of America: During her high profile two-week tour of Asia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the United States will increase its development and security cooperation with countries in the South Pacific. On Wednesday, Clinton will visit Papua New Guinea, and later New Zealand and Australia.

Secretary Clinton's talks with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare will cover a wide range of issues: environmental concerns, women's rights and governance in the resource-wealthy yet economically poor nation.

The top U.S. diplomat's visit to Port Moresby is part of Washington's renewed interest in the region, which in recent years has received increased assistance from China. Most countries in the South Pacific, outside of Australia and New Zealand, are small and poor. A few are politically unstable and several island nations are threatened by rising sea levels.

The Lowy Institute of International Policy in Sydney estimates that in 2008 China pledged $206 million in grants and soft loans to eight small Pacific nations. The U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID] only gave $3.6 million.

Clinton says that is going to change: next year USAID will open an office in Fiji with a $20 million climate change fund. It will be the first USAID presence in the region in 16 years.  Military-ruled Fiji is believed to be the biggest recipient of Chinese aid in the region.

"We are working through the Pacific Island Forum to support the Pacific island nations as they strive to really confront and solve the challenges they face from climate change and freedom of navigation," said Clinton.

It is not too late for the U.S. to engage with the region, says Allan Patience, a professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, and an expert on South Pacific nations.

"There is still a strong sense that America is an important presence, but that America has been neglecting the region," Patience said. "China itself has some problems, in that some [Pacific] states are asking too much, demanding too much and are not prepared to follow through with what China wants them to do. A good case would be Fiji, which has been trying to use China against some of the other countries in the region particularly Australia and New Zealand, in defending the takeover by the military couple of years ago," Patience points out. "Australia and New Zealand have reduced their aid, making it difficult for Fiji. Fiji turned to China."

Australia has been the traditional regional power, giving about $1 billion in aid this year. But relations with its neighbors have sometimes been strained because of Canberra's insistence on political or economic reforms.

Professor Patience cautions that politicians in Port Moresby could use Clinton's visit to bolster their legitimacy despite allegations of widespread corruption and human rights abuses. Transparency International this year ranked Papua New Guinea among the most corrupt countries in the world.

About half of the country's income comes from oil drilling and mining for metals such as copper and gold, activities that environmental watchdogs say damage the country's rich biodiversity. The U.S. oil company Exxon Mobil operates a natural gas project that could pump $30 billion into Papua New Guinea's government over 30 years.

From Port Moresby, Clinton travels to New Zealand.

Kurt Campbell, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, says the U.S. will recommit to ties with New Zealand.  Campbell adds relations have been largely ignored since Wellington banned nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from its waters 25 years ago.

"There, we will issue the so-called Wellington Declaration which will underscore our desire to see U.S.-New Zealand relations return to a significance in terms of coordination on a range of issues - non-proliferation, politics, climate change, how we work together in the Pacific Islands," Campbell said. "And we, of course, are very grateful for the work and support that New Zealand has provided us and other nations in Afghanistan."

From there, Secretary Clinton travels to Australia, a close ally whose forces serve in Afghanistan.

Clinton and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will meet with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defense Minister Stephen Smith to mark the 25th anniversary of bilateral ministerial talks.

Secretary Clinton earlier said the allies will continue to modernize defense cooperation to respond to "a more complex maritime environment."

Some Australian political analysts say Canberra is caught between Washington and Beijing. Chinese demand for Australian resources have contributed to an economic boom in Australia and relations with Beijing have grown closer in recent years.  An Australian defense ministry report last month warned that increased Chinese military spending is changing the balance of power in Asia as the U.S. experiences military budget pressures.

In recent years, Australian mines have been one of the biggest suppliers to China of iron ore and other raw materials. But even as Sino-Australian economic ties flourished, many Australian officials and foreign affairs analysts remain wary over China's growing regional power.

Clinton wraps up her Asia-Pacific tour in American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the South Pacific devastated by a tsunami in 2009.


TheMax said...

China has been in the Pacific for years, what's wrong with that?

Anonymous said...

Canberra can think & say what it likes about China - China can say & think what likes about Canberra -but when alls said & done - China still needs the recources - and if they don't like it - India's outside waiting.

So get used to it AUS - your going too be rich beyond your wildests dreams - like it or not.

UAE of the South Pacific.

sara'ssista said...

Notably fiji is claiming some thaw in relations but not a managing vist from the US sec of State?? No-one of any subtsance wants to be associated with a military regime.

convolutedexperiment said...

In future, any aid from Australia to Fiji, should be based on accountability and good governance measures within the Fijian Government.
Handouts for handouts sake, don't work in the long run.
The Chinese per se, are not the problem, it's the People's Republic of China's Regime and Doctrine, that is potentially the problem, not for Australia, but for the Pacific Region as a whole, particularly, Fiji, at the moment and in the short term.

No doubt the " soft loans " so called, will create a hurdle when it comes time to repay those loans.
The burden of payment will be around for 40 years, and Frank and Co. will be long dead by then.
It's Fiji's current and upcoming generation that will have to shoulder the burden of debt in Fiji.

Anonymous said...

Saying US rattled wrong terminology - taking necessary steps more appropiate.

Jake said...


Nothing is wrong with China in the region u dope? It is just a matter of competing interests.

Anonymous said...

Yep,good on you Hillary for finally paying attention to the Pacific.This means that Voreqe's days are numbered because the US together with Australia will put so much pressure on them that the misguided coup will totally collapse.

Everyone can write to the US ambassador in Suva and ask the US to tie any aid to the restoring of democracy,human rights and justice for the traitors.

Qarauna Voreqe,the US Marines and Australia's rapid response force are ready to move in and throw you all in jail

Anonymous said...

Be very weary of this second beast called America. It speaks like the dragon.

mark manning said...

It's interesting to note that many countries are defaulting on their loans to China and collectively China is losing millions of dollars consequently.
I have a very strong suspicion that the americans are fully aware of china's over exposure in this regard, worldwide as well as with Fiji's illegal Regime.
I suspect the Americans and other western countries have deliberately sat back and watched China try to spread its tentacles across the world, not realising that they were headed for deep waters.
Now that china's economy is starting to implode and unemployment there is increasing at an exponential rate, the western countries are ready to re assert their influence again.
It's only a matter of time before Frank and Co. are marched off to prison.

Jake said...

Mark if you check properly you will find that America holds the biggest loan fron China. So much so if China calls in their repayment tomorrow the American economy is as good as dead. US debts according to experts is so huge, they say it can never be repaid.

Anonymous said...

Let the US work for its place in the Pacific

green beret said...

Convolutedexperiemtn@4.39pm...can we rely on the next generation to get it right? our pool of leaders for 2014 elections (or when they come) look slim as it is

Anonymous said...

Specific Pacific Places.

With its homeland and a state in the north - territories in mid & south - US is the only one that can claim title of being a true Pacific nation.

Anonymous said...

anon@9.23 it's not total paradise, in the North Pacific. Guam and the Marshall islands have their gripes against the US most of it pretty valid.The US is not as bad as Britain as colonisers biut tis record is not perfect

mark manning said...

China doesn't need the money, it needs the resources to keep its own population employed and compliant, otherwise the Regime there will be hung by the testicles.
Frank Bainimarama's Regime will suffer a similar fate, except there is no one in Fiji's Regime who has testicles.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 10:26.

Havent noticed any moves towards any of these people wishing to severe ties with the US - have you?