China, Pacific, Lower Institute discussed on Between The Lines


It's published by the lower institute and the author is Paul Kelly Paul, great to have you again on between the lines. Tom it's been wonderful to have this discussion with you. Thanks so much. My pleasure, Paul Kelly, editor at large of the Australian newspaper. Well, for decades, Australia assumed its role as a major power in the Pacific region, was unchallenged. It's rich and influence was taken for granted. Well, that was until China started to take an interest in the region. Now, if a Pacific nations, Beijing offers new options for finance, investment, and diplomacy, it's become more competitive, and that means Canberra and others have had to lift their game. So to discuss China in the Pacific in what an increased Chinese presence means for the region, let's turn to our panel. Professor Catelyn burn is director of the Griffith Asia institute in Brisbane. Hello, Caitlyn, welcome back to between the lines. Hi, there Tom great to be with you. And doctor Anna pals is a senior lecturer in security studies at messieurs university in New Zealand. Anna, thanks for joining us. Kyra, it's great to be here. Thank you. Now, can we start by talking about the extent of China's presence in the Pacific region, Caitlin? It's certainly increased in recent years, but is it as rapid and expansive as some fear? Well, thanks, Tom. That's a really great starting point. And let me do firstly with the increase. And I think it is worth noting from the outset that China has had a long-standing presence in the Pacific, you know, including from early trade and migration connections that have led to a fairly significant Chinese across the region. But I think certainly over the past decade, China's presence in the region has grown, particularly through trade and economic links through increasing diplomatic reach where they were talking about traditional forms of diplomacy or less traditional public diplomacy initiatives, including education scholarships and cultural exchange. And of course, in the development space, and more aggressive approach, particularly on infrastructure investment under the terms of the world to road initiatives. So I think when you look at the region now, China plays a very distinct role, certainly different from what it might have been a decade ago. It is a significant trading partner for many. It has a strong presence in the business community. And plays a role in this changing development landscape. But I think in terms of the second part of your question, you know, when we think about change in regional order that's always going to make people particularly policymakers in our national security circles uneasy. And I think there is a sense at the moment that this change that China, China's growing influence has brought does impinge on Australia's strategic outlook and that it has been calls for concern. Many commentators believe Beijing seeks to displace the U.S. as the dominant power in the Pacific. And what do you think China hopes to gain? What's driving Beijing? China's interest in the Pacific, probably threefold. Diplomatic competition with Taiwan is obviously been a significant part of that through the 80s and 90s. We really saw that sort of checkbook diplomacy take off through the 90s particularly. Now, of course, there are only four remaining Taiwan Taiwanese allies in the Pacific the Marshall Islands Tuvalu and Palau. And whereas the Pacific had long been this bulkhead for Taiwan in terms of a block of allies..

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