#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Aussie review uses China fear factor to ply Fiji re-engagement theory again

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Aussie review uses China fear factor to ply Fiji re-engagement theory again

FACE OF CHINA: Some of the thousands of tourists visiting Fiji these days.pic MINFO

A new report on an old fear from Australia: the rising Chinese influence in the region and suggestions the US appears to doubt Australia can deliver on South Pacific issues.

Our New Abroad, Australia and Pacific Islands Regionalism is written by the ubiquitous Richard Herr and Anthony Bergin, for the Australian Strategic Policies Institute.

Singing from a familiar colonial hymn, Herr and Bergin again urge Australia re-gather the threads of regional leadership and re-engage with Fiji, one of the Pacific nations providing a gateway for China to the region.

Here is the executive summary for the review. The full report is available at the link at the end of the story:

The Pacific islands region has been undergoing a substantial and dynamic change in its geopolitics, with profound consequences for Australia. The changing tectonics of the Asian century, the dramatic rise of China and a bitter intra-regional dispute with Fiji are amongst the most visible developments.

Although Australia is the largest donor in the region as well as its most influential political actor, these geopolitical shifts have raised serious questions about the contemporary effectiveness of our regional relationships.

The Pacific islands region is full of contradictions—vast, yet small; weak, yet influential; important, yet frequently ignored. Its geopolitical characteristics are so diverse that commonalties can be difficult to find. Nevertheless, for more than six decades, Australia has devoted considerable resources to creating and supporting a regional system to express the Pacific islands’ common interests.

Historically, the success of the regional approach can’t be questioned. Regional relationships contributed significantly to the Pacific islands’ peaceful transition to independence. Their collective action has been responsible for significant achievements in the postcolonial rough and tumble of resource diplomacy.

Australia isn’t a member of the Pacific islands region by virtue of its geographic boundaries, but the decision-making scope of the Pacific Islands Forum makes us the largest and most influential member of the regional family. This dichotomy has produced a ‘bifocal’ view of Pacific islands regionalism that was occasionally controversial but generally regarded as an important source of strength.

The intimacy that Australia enjoys through the regional system hasn’t been negotiated through treaties. It’s been built by friendship and maintained by mutual respect. Our regional ties provide the most important measure of the warmth of the overall relationship that Australia has with the Pacific islands.

Some critics have maintained that Australia’s privileged regional position has tended to be more that of an outsider, rather than an insider. Some of this criticism is due to changes in the way our neighbours have viewed their place in the world. Other criticisms are based on perceptions that Australian interests have altered.

Over the two decades since the end of the Cold War, the concept of political alignment has lost its cogency, diminishing the perceived security benefits of alignment both for the Pacific islands and for their Western supporters.

Greater exposure to non‑aligned interests, coupled with global changes outside the region, especially the rise of China as a global economic power, has offered the Islands new models for development as well as outlets for their national economies.

Island concerns over Australia’s bifocal regional perspectives stem in part from a perception that Australia is a key driver behind current integration processes. Critics have raised doubts about Australia’s motivation for seeking closer regional relations through the Pacific Plan and PACER Plus.1

Yet today regional security demands more effective collective action to meet the traditional and non-traditional security threats facing the Pacific islands. The regional system has been increasingly occupied with assisting the islands to meet the obligations of statehood, such as domestic stability, law and order, and the protection of state jurisdiction (especially after the declaration of exclusive economic zones).

The erosion in Australia’s standing in Pacific regional affairs can be seen in rising sub‑regionalism and faltering support for Australia’s lead on regional initiatives. The islands are displaying an increasingly independent fascination with Asia. They’re broadening unconventional diplomatic ties and preferring regional representation at the United Nations that excludes Australia.

Thus, the coherence and robustness of the regional system are being tested at a time when it is divided as never before, as regional organisations adapt to a new and diversified security environment.

The recent Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Auckland clearly demonstrated the value of the privileged position Australia enjoys in regional affairs. The US sought and secured observer status for its three territories, as France had done for its territories several years earlier, but neither is eligible for full membership in its own right.

Moreover, new interests rumoured to be seeking admission as Post-Forum Dialogue partners included Israel, Turkey, Germany, Russia, Cuba, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. Indeed, the numbers are so great that this arrangement will have to be more formalised to cope.

There can be no doubt that effective regional relationships remain an important soft power asset for Australia. The trust that has come with being an accepted member of the regional family contributes enormously to maintaining that asset.

The Australian Government’s recently announced ‘Asian Century’ white paper review should find, as this review has, that Asia–Pacific linkages can add value to Australia’s regional ties with the Pacific islands.

The new Asian interests in the islands pose significant challenges and even risks to the region. Our island neighbours are encouraging and extending these interests through their ‘look North’ policies. Cultivating these connections could ultimately advantage our own Asian ambitions.

Conversely, attempting to use Pacific regional agencies to curtail our neighbours’ emerging Asian ties would damage both our national interests and those of Western allies grappling with related developments, especially in the Western Pacific.

This report finds five areas where Australia can contribute to its own standing in the regional family while advancing regional security.

Traditional security concerns can be addressed by improving the institutional reach and capacity of the existing regional structures. More extra-regional interests—both traditional (France and the US) and new (China)—should be included.

Australia’s regional posture can be enhanced. Our privileged position in the Pacific islands regional structure needs to adjust to address recent changes. Engaging more closely with sub‑regional developments and repairing the regional relationship with Fiji are two of the highest priorities.

Non‑traditional threats to security are more significant in this region than anywhere else because of the extreme vulnerability of most regional states:

Economic development remains the primary non‑traditional source of threat to their stability and sovereignty. Amid increasing concerns about food and energy security, labour mobility and disaster recovery work are areas for development. 

Heightened concerns about education and health are having a regional and sub‑regional impact on national development.

Finally, Australia needs to build a more effective national base for Pacific islands policy. The Pacific islands have slipped from Australian public consciousness in recent decades, reducing the personal base we need to understand our regional family.

Our New Abroad, Australia and Pacific Islands Regionalism



Radiolucas said...

Apart from a few unscrupulous investors and loan sharks - how much interest could China really have in Fiji?

I think sometimes that this talk of China's interests in Fiji are simply overblown by the regime to make their actions seem more important. I doubt that China would ever consider Australia, NZ or the USA's needs even close to those of Fiji. It all reads like a propoganda brain-fart by Frank and Aiyaz.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, what is wrong with this? Wake up you guys! Life has moved on. It's five years since the coup!

Munna said...

Piss off Australia !!

China is our friend.

Anonymous said...

The report deserves serious consideration and those who are advocating further isolating Fiji should rethink their position because by not engaging Australia cannot influence the design and the implementation of the new Fiji constitution and the new electoral rules.

Anonymous said...

Too damn late! Australia always had a "racist' policy towards those who were not WHITE. It still exists today but in very subtle forms. The attitude by successive Australain Governments & its people took especially Fiji was that we were dependent on Australia hence their view was they needed to play with their same colour relatives in th USA & their British cousins as we in the Pacific were taken for granted.WE have tosweat blood to get into Australia but a no school British person can walk thru the door! Well today it finally dawned on them-that not all blacks are as stupid as they may think we are.Its China & India that they really scared of now-the USA military might just cannot go on with its war mongering machinery and think they can get away with If anything should be learnt it is the fact that Australia , Britain & the USA & every country who really thinks its a super power that it only tends to last for a centain period before they collapse. Amazingly India & China were Super Powers-India i cannot recall conquoring any country-right from the time of Ashoka the Great with warfare yet his legacy is all over Asia today including China that was ruled by India for over 2000 years! China was a Super Power when the British were still trying to figure out if the World was round! Whilst the USa & its mates were concentrating on warfare- India & China were doing their homework for the economic "pushups" to come so right now its a case of "Sa bera- sa ci na kangaroo ka vaka na Ikali" You can carry on with warfare but most likely with end up just like Idi Amin ie printing your own money! For the times they are a charging-as the song goes! DRi yani

Anonymous said...

It just doesn't make sense to base their policy on fears of Chinese influence. Just get rid of Baini because he is bad for the region and bad for Fiji.

Same old groupies said...

The same old coup groupies and coup apologists keep emerging? Perhaps Mr Richard Herr should declare his interests in Fiji and in particular clearly outline any personal gains, financial and otherwise, from involvement in Fiji since the abusive military junta deposed the legitimately elected in Dec 2006?
Over to you Mr Herr?

Anonymous said...

First of all the "look North policy" is Bainimarama's policy.
This was never the desire of the Fijian people.
This was some grandiose idea of one person.

The right thing to do is for Australians and Kiwis help us get rid of this man.

Fijians would rather work with Australians and New Zealanders.
For Mr Herr and Mr Bergin to suggest that Australia should engage with the Military Regime is to give-in to thuggery and bullies.

The right thing to do is for Australia, NZ and US bring their troops (30,000) and take back what rightly belongs to the people of Fiji and give it back to them.

Capitulating to the Fijian Army is bullshit. These arseholes need to be taught that we, the Fijian people, are not going to put up with another coup and we are not going to continue to be pushed around any more.

Rewa and other provinces are not going to accept the Charter and we are going to kick Bai's arse all the way to Naboro.
So we want ANZUS to help us.

-Valataka na Dina.

Time to Move On said...

Attacking Richard Herr isn't going to alter the fact that he was merely a coauthor of this report, the other author being Anthony Bergin. The Australian Stragetic Policy Institute is an Australian government funded think tank. Do you think they are merely going to rubber stamp the work of one person? The need for re-engagement is now the collective view of this organisation, as well as the Lowy Institute. Are they all coup groupies and coup apologists? Get real " same old groupies". The effort to unseat the regime has failed and the sooner people like you realise it the better. These think tanks now think engaging with Frank, not shunning him, is the way to go because the alternative has failed and is totally counterproductive. You may not like it but it's a fact. Shooting the messenger - like you have with Herr - gets us nowhere. The guy is a highly respected figure in Australia, way beyond his Pacific work. Remove him and the others will still hold the same view. It's time to re-engage and hold Frank to his promises.

Collective view. Really? said...

@ Time to move on

Are YOU speaking for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute when you say it "is the collective view" to engage with a dictator and a military junta? If so most of us were under the impression the institute is not only independent but capable of speaking for itself.
It is only the same old coup groupies (with agendas) and the military junta itself who keep pleading for engagement and recognition. Has the thought of running up a drain pipe got them jumping at shadows?

NIB said...

Breaking news

Commissioner of police is going to be sent as ambassador far away. Police force in chaos and police officers are now clearly showing defiance to compol.

When compol landed at nadi airport from indonesia on monday no senior officer went to recive him. Compol was swearing at RPC west at nadi airport and saying " you better go and look for a new commisssioner you asshole"

Compol didn't even come to office this week to sign any documents or briefings but went touring to eastern and northern.

He knows he is going so full swing wasting police money. Pm office also please sack the following when you change compol:

- dcp lageri
- acp brown
- cao joseph
- ssp erami
- ssp luke

All these people are corrupt.

Anonymous said...


Well, what's new with a corrupt-to-the-core ComPol, he has to buy off his henchmen to stay in power. Corrupt begets corrupt...

He can run but he can't hide. Even Gadaffi junior's flashy credentials couldn't save his a$$ when push came to shove.

The people will have the last laugh when it comes to these LOSERS who ought to know better! tik tok tik tok....

Skippy. said...

What constitutes a Pacific Island?

"Australia isn't a member of the Pacific Islands by virtue of its geographic boundaries"?

You can combine every other South Pacific Islands coastlines into one and they would fit into Australia's "South Pacific Coast" that many times it doesn't matter. Not only is Australia the South Pacifics "biggest Island" its also the worlds. This very strange logic also applies to other countries with very strong Pacific credentials. With its western home border facing the North Pacific - a state (Hawaii) in this same area - territories in Mid & South Pacific - yet people continue to believe the nonsense that the US is also not a Pacific member because of "geographic boundaries"? (this same dysfunctionallogic also applies to NZ).
People can believe anything they want about who and what qualifies "geographically" as a Pacific Island? The reality is all 3 countries are "Pacific Island" players and will act accordingly - like it or lump it?

Anonymous said...

White State of Australia is racicist and sick .

Australia not geographically part of the Pacific???????

You mean Australia is not racially part of the Pacific, or at least, no longer part of the Pacific, we exterminated the pesky blacks that were here and sure as hell not going to let anymore of them in.

Hey Australia is not part of the Pacific, we have no geographical connection so dont you start pulling any of that palsy walsy Pacific family stuff around here.

LABOUR MOBILITY is what you are and thats they way its going to stay black fella.

But we are Christian brothers, yeha right, go tell it to the hand.

Anonymous said...


Go with the flow said...

There are some seriously weird people here trying to attack some seriously clever Australian policy wonks just because they come up with an opinion at odds with their own. With the Lowy Institute and now APSi again calling for re-engagement with Fiji, who's left holding the opposite view? Jon Fraenkel, Baledrokadroka and Brij Lal, his brother-in-law Wadan Narsey, a brace of other anti-regime types in Australia like Roko Ului and the dreadful Kevin Rudd Wake up, guys. It's over. Get used to it. The smart people who are paid to think long and hard about Australian foreign policy have seen reason. How long is it going to take before you do?

Anonymous said...

Vuaka is starting to sell Fiji to the Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Communism believes in equality through force. In its system, individual rights are ground to powder and used to build its idol of absolute government control. It is indeed like the tusk of the elephant. It is sharp. It is dangerous. And it has gored millions of men in its rage through history.

mara lailai said...

look north policy was mara and penaias policy in the 1978 coup,bainimara copied from them,this is not new

mark manning said...

The Chinese are good people generally. We have many living in Australia who have become Australian citizens, they are Law biding, productive members of society, contributing much wealth. Many attend Christian churches and hold their Christian values very high. It is some of these very Chinese, who return to china and spread the word of the Lord.
The Chinese are as entitled to enjoy the hospitality of Fijians as anyone else, but it is the Regime's quest for fees from these same Tourists, that makes their visit unpalatable to the local Fijians.

I suspect that the Chinese Government will eventually regret its decision to send its people into Fiji, because those very same Christian values which Fijians predominantly have, with rub off onto those very same tourists who in turn, will return to china and make demands for more freedom of Religion etc.

Anonymous said...

lOOK NORTH TO ASIA...is actually a
good policy and the coup is an excellent time to do it.Australia,NZ and the western allies tries their best to keep us
isolated by throwing our political
leaders, secondhand carrots and grass, in order to keep them fed & occupied.All former Fiji Prime Ministers, have at one time or another,commented on the idea to
check out the Asian Markets?But nothing came out of this, since the west was always their with more carrots. Even if Frank is ousted,it might be a good idea to keep this market alive,
especially China?At least Frank has
done something good for Fijis' future markets?????????

Taukei. said...

@ Go with the flow. (swimming upstream).

You people are unbelievable - call yourself "Pacific (Fiji) Specialists" when you don't even know the difference between Fiji & Viti? Goodness - how do explain to people with Canberra cultural tunnel vision that there are other forces inplay in this place they know only as "Fiji"? And that perhaps the most important one of them all in this traditional society others know as Viti has just returned from a self imposed exile & taken up residence back on his own home Island - maybe you people should consider talking to him? Vinaka.

Some Tips.
Check in Suva hotel - hire car with maps - little place just off Tailevu called Bau - must arrange appointment (traditional - grog) - otherwise they (Taukei)won't let you anywhere near him or the place. Can't understand you peoples sudden interest in all thing Fiji when you should be concentrating on more important AUS Gov priorities such as gay marriage & getting your current politcal masters re elected & what to do with all the political sensitive flotsam & jetsam that's suddenly appeared on Canberra's formally pristine (Pacific) foreshore - with prospects of considerably more to come - majority of whom will be trained lawyers & academics seeking political refuge from perceived democratic persecution.

Anonymous said...

If the Chinese Government did not support this illegal Fijian Military Regime the Fijian people would not be oppressed, have all media censored and have no votes in a democratic election. Thank you China.

sara'ssista said...

@ Munna , i am with you , i have always thouught that australia should have banned all tourism to fiji, declined any sttlement by fjians in australia, blockaded fiji by force including boats and flights, then ignore it until the regime falls. Though, lets just remember who is the 'needy one' here in this relationship. Who is the one always with their handout...? The fact is we give this issue way too much attention.