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Buying off China in the north

Buying off China in the north

Like greedy mice countries to the north of Australia will ultimately gorge on the largest piece of cheese. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has just been to Beijing trying to mend fractured sentiments caused by Australia’s temerity to voice its opposition to China’s interference in its political affairs. Now that rising sea levels have curiously stopped the cries for cash have switched to the largest gifts from the security conscious—Australia and or China!

Australia will create a multi-billion dollar fund for Pacific island nations to build infrastructure, in an apparent attempt to counter China’s influence. Delivering a major policy speech, PM Scott Morrison said he aimed to restore the Pacific to the “front and centre” of Australia’s foreign outlook. Australia will offer up to A$2bn (£1.11bn; $1.45bn) in grants and loans to strengthen ties, he said.

Source: BBC

Australia ramps up Pacific spending amid China debate

In Beijing, China’s top diplomat said the two countries were “not rivals”.

After meeting Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Beijing, top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said the two countries should be co-operating in the Pacific.

The relationship between China and Australia has become strained over allegations of Chinese interference in Australian politics and Ms Payne’s visit has been seen as an effort to resolve tensions.

Ms Payne said she had had “valuable, full and candid” discussions with Mr Wang, and said they would manage differences “respectfully”.

But Mr Morrison’s announcement on the same day of a major initiative targeted at the Pacific was seen by analysts as directed at rolling back China’s growing influence.

“Australia cannot take its influence in the south-west Pacific for granted. I think, sadly, too often we have,” he said. “This is our patch. This is where we have special responsibilities.”

The fund could be used for telecommunications, energy and transport infrastructure projects, Mr Morrison suggested. He said he would also ask Parliament to pledged another A$1bn in regional investments providing “national benefit for Australia”.

He added that Australia would expand its diplomatic posts and military ties, and broadcast more local TV programmes in the region.

For over a decade, Australia has watched China’s power grow in what it regards as its backyard.

Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG) next week, Scott Morrison has decided it is time to reassert Australia’s dominant position.

By offering billions of dollars in loans on top of long-term aid, Australia can buy some real financial leverage over its neighbours.

By promising more access to Australian television, it can maintain some so-called soft power too.

The hope is that people in the Pacific will continue to see Australia as their natural, neighbourly ally.

Mr Morrison said new diplomatic missions would be created in Palau, the Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, Niue and the Cook Islands.

China is estimated to have invested A$1.3bn in the region since 2011, and has become the second-largest donor of foreign aid there behind Australia.

Australia has already moved to play a key role in Pacific projects this year. In July,it committed to building an underwater internet cable to the Solomon Islands and PNG, in a move that shut out Chinese company Huawei.

It has also announced plans to build a joint naval base with PNG.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Pensioner Pete 09/11/2018, 7:06 am

    Quote from above: “Australia will create a multi-billion dollar fund for Pacific island nations to build infrastructure, in an apparent attempt to counter China’s influence”

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Australian government would build infrastructure to drought proof the inland instead of waffling about it? Perhaps we of the inland, those west of the Great Dividing Range should begin negotiations with the Chinese to build such infrastructure, then perhaps Canberra and Brisbane would show some actual real interest outside the south east corner of Queensland.

    It seems, we, the forgotten Queenslanders have already moved forward for Chinese assistance with an outback Mayor recently having signed up with the Chinese, joining the international Silk Road Urban Alliance and formalising the partnership at a summit in China two weeks ago. Not a word from ScoMo, not a word from Puzzleduck, this action with China seems to have slipped under the political radar.

    And now I wait with bated breath, for ScoMo to announce a large number of Billions of dollars to be invested in infrastructure for the inland to keep the Chinese at bay.

    • Bushkid 09/11/2018, 10:01 am

      Don’t hold your breath, PP, you’ll pass out long before there’s anything useful coming from Canberra or Brisbane.

  • John E 09/11/2018, 9:21 am

    The irony might be tha ScoMo has to borrow the money for his fund from the Chinese.

    • DT 09/11/2018, 2:45 pm

      I understand that the Commonwealth of Australia issues government bonds which are invested in by any interested investor.

  • Popular Front 09/11/2018, 11:37 am

    More naivity from Morrison. He’s assuming all those ‘kanaka’ nations in the Pacific will be pathetically grateful for Australian ‘aid’, not realising that some of those nations leaders are very savvy men who will happily and skilfully play Australia off against China for more infrastructure support and money.

  • John Klasen 10/11/2018, 11:48 am

    OH shit now my taxes will go up.

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