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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

War with China update:
   Chinese "phishing" the South Pacific

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is in Fiji today meeting "with Pacific island leaders whose governments have diplomatic relations with China."

There are several reasons for the high-profile Chinese interest in the South Pacific.

  1. "dollar diplomacy" - Part of Beijing's efforts to regain control of Taiwan is to isolate the island breakaway province cum sovereign nation diplomatically, culturally and economically.
  2. natural resources - China's need to gain access to the resource-rich Pacific nations is no different than Imperial Japanese need 50 years ago. Granted, China has a vast resource base to utilize that Imperial Japan never had, but China already imports a growing amount of natural resources to feed its hungry economy.
  3. Countering American influence in the region is critical if China should ever get into a conflict with the US. Having demonstrable influence with Pacific Island nations takes the "unfettered" out of the US Navy's unfettered global access, particularly throughout the Pacific. Merely having the capability to constrain and harass US Navy operations in the Pacific dramatically raises the cost for America, whilst costing the Chinese little.
  4. From the CNN article:By securing the allegiance of South Pacific nations, China could effectively create a large voting bloc in the United Nations and other international organizations where each country was given a vote, regardless of its size.


Blogger Jay Cline said...

Monday, April 3, 2006; Posted: 10:36 p.m. EDT (02:36 GMT)

NADI, Fiji (AP) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was to open talks with eight South Pacific leaders in Fiji on Tuesday -- a move one expert said was designed to cement China's influence in the region and freeze out Taiwan.

During a one-day stopover in Fiji, which begins later Tuesday, Wen was due to meet with Pacific island leaders whose governments have diplomatic relations with China.

The decision to exclude countries which have relations with Taiwan is the latest round in what experts sometimes refer to as "dollar diplomacy" between Beijing and Taipei.

Susan Windybank, a Pacific expert at the Center for Independent Studies, an Australian think-tank, said China's interest in the region -- which is rich in primary resources but offers no major economic benefits to China -- was focused largely on rival Taiwan.

"There is no doubt that the increased Chinese activity, which has translated into greater influence, does have a component in trying to combat Taiwanese influence in the region," Windybank said in a telephone interview.

"You could call it a kind of Pacific Cold War between China and Taiwan," she said.

China has diplomatic ties with seven countries in the South Pacific, including Fiji, the Cook Islands, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. It also has ties with the tiny coral atoll of Niue, a self-governing nation administered by New Zealand.

Taiwan in turn is recognized by Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

But some of those countries, including Kiribati and Nauru, have switched allegiances several times in recent years in apparent attempts to generate more aid.

Taipei seeks diplomatic recognition from Pacific island and other nations to shore up its status as a sovereign government. Beijing wants to deny the self-ruled island such ties to back its claim that Taiwan, split from the communist mainland since 1949, is part of its territory.

Windybank believes the diplomatic volleyball has been damaging to the Pacific.

"They've more or less resorted to bribery via aid to get the allegiance of countries," she said. "That's just exacerbated the problems of corruption in the Pacific and has done very little to help the underlying development problems that urgently need addressing."

But China's interest in the region extended beyond Taiwan, Windybank said.

By securing the allegiance of South Pacific nations, China could effectively create a large voting bloc in the United Nations and other international organizations where each country was given a vote, regardless of its size, Windybank said.

This would help it to freeze out Taiwan and raise its influence worldwide.

"It's laying the foundation for a new regional order where Beijing is seen as the natural leader and the United States and its allies are kind of outsiders," she said.

After a ceremony welcome at his arrival on Tuesday, Wen was due to hold talks with Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and sign a number of bilateral agreements promising aid for a hydroelectric power station, as well as promoting cooperation on exports and agriculture.

On Wednesday, Wen was scheduled to attend a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony and meet individually with the leaders of Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Micronesia, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Niue and Samoa.

He then flies to New Zealand, where he is expected to meet with Prime Minister Helen Clark to discuss a free trade deal between the two countries.

He is to wrap up his trip on April 8 in Cambodia.

4/04/2006 1:16 PM  

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