Co­op­er­a­tion cho­rus needed in South Pa­cific

Global Times US Edition - - EDITORIAL -

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ar­rived in Pa­pua New Guinea (PNG) on Thurs­day, em­bark­ing on a se­ries of vis­its and fo­ru­mat­tend­ing with PNG the first leg of his trip. PNG is the largest coun­try in the South Pa­cific with a pop­u­la­tion of over 8 mil­lion. Af­ter years of co­op­er­a­tion, as of Oc­to­ber, China’s FDI stock in PNG reached $3.04 bil­lion and about 40 Chi­nese com­pa­nies are op­er­at­ing in the coun­try. From Jan­uary to Au­gust, two-way trade be­tween China and PNG reached $2.25 bil­lion, up 34.6 per­cent year-on-year.

Apart from at­tend­ing the APEC sum­mit in PNG, Xi will meet lead­ers of eight Pa­cific is­land na­tions with which China has es­tab­lished diplo­matic ties, a ma­jor event in China’s re­la­tions with the South Pa­cific.

The South Pa­cific is now of­ten men­tioned to­gether with China. While the PNG pub­lic has been friendly with China, pow­ers like Aus­tralia and the US tend to view China-South Pa­cific co­op­er­a­tion from a geopo­lit­i­cal per­spec­tive, mak­ing the re­gion a venue where China, Aus­tralia and the US learn to adapt to each other’s strat­egy and men­tal­ity.

Aus­tralia, which sees the South Pa­cific as part of its sphere of in­flu­ence, has vast lever­age over these na­tions and is their largest aid donor. But in these mostly un­der­de­vel­oped coun­tries, Aus­tralian aid is not ef­fi­ciently em­ployed since most aid re­sources flow to healthcare and gov­ern­men­tal ad­min­is­tra­tion and sel­dom reach the in­fra­struc­ture and pro­duc­tion sec­tors.

The Tai­wan ques­tion is among the rea­sons that lead to low-ef­fi­cient de­vel­op­ment of South Pa­cific coun­tries. Tai­wan keeps “diplo­matic ties” with six coun­tries in the re­gion. Its small fa­vors to these coun­tries are not ad­e­quate to help pro­mote lo­cal economies and so­cial progress. And these coun­tries face pres­sure when they an­nounce in­ten­tions to build diplo­matic ties with Bei­jing.

Bei­jing pri­or­i­tizes lo­cal de­vel­op­ment and win-win co­op­er­a­tion in de­vel­op­ing ties with South Pa­cific coun­tries. Chi­nese loans mainly go to in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing that are ur­gently needed, with­out po­lit­i­cal strings at­tached. These equal-foot­ing con­tri­bu­tions have fos­tered highly ef­fi­cient eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion projects.

In com­par­i­son, some Aus­tralians are used to the poverty of South Pa­cific coun­tries and their de­pen­dence on Aus­tralia. The Aus­tralian pub­lic has been spec­u­lat­ing about China’s strate­gic in­ten­tion be­hind co­op­er­at­ing with South Pa­cific coun­tries, which is fu­eled by sen­sa­tional re­ports from the US and other Western na­tions about China’s am­bi­tions. But these imag­i­nary re­ports are not re­flec­tive of re­al­ity, but rather of nar­row-mind­ed­ness.

China tries hard to un­der­stand and take care of the con­cerns un­der­ly­ing Aus­tralia’s in­ca­pa­bil­ity to adapt to the new trend in re­gional de­vel­op­ment. Af­ter all, China seeks to make friends and have com­mon de­vel­op­ment in the South Pa­cific and is un­will­ing to ac­cept mis­un­der­stand­ing. China and Aus­tralia need to step up their com­mu­ni­ca­tion over the South Pa­cific and can con­duct co­op­er­a­tion projects there, such as sign­ing a de­vel­op­ment MOU.

It’s not a bad thing if the South Pa­cific be­comes a place where China, Aus­tralia and the US seek ways to re­duce their strate­gic doubts about one an­other. Most im­por­tantly, China reaches out to the South Pa­cific with kind­ness in pur­suit of com­mon in­ter­ests. Facts speaker louder than spec­u­la­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.