What Pacific island states make of the great-power contest over them

What Pacific island states make of the great-power contest over them | The Economist

China and America are both trying to woo the tiny countries. They will not easily be swayed

To strategic planners in Beijing and Washington, the newest locus of an intense great-power contest between China and the United States and its allies is self-evident: the vast southern sweep of the Pacific Ocean and its island states. The West first grew concerned in 2018, when a government-directed Chinese bank said it would fund the construction of a wharf in Vanuatu, north-east of Australia. The government in Canberra, Australia’s capital, feared it might be a precursor to a Chinese naval base in the region (it wasn’t). Then, three years ago, Chinese financial and other blandishments led Kiribati and the neighbouring Solomon Islands to switch their diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan, with which they had had ties for decades.

This April, China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, allowing ship visits and the deployment of armed police and military personnel (if invited), again causing alarm in Australia. In May China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, embarked on a tour of island nations in an attempt to get them to sign up to a “China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision”—a new geopolitical bloc, in short. Proposals included closer co-operation on policing and cyber-security as well as freer trade.

READ FULL ARTICLE : What Pacific island states make of the great-power contest over them | The Economist

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