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China’s spreading influence deepens rivalry in the Pacific

26 5 0

THE INDO-Pacific is permeated by adversarial relations between China and India, Japan, and the US.

This was the reason these three countries, along with Australia, formed the Quad – a security co-operation framework built to strategically link major democracies in the region. In order to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific, their governments saw it as a necessary step.

Until recently, Australia has had a limited role to play in this emergent Indo-Pacific network. But intensifying conflicts of interest between Australia and China in the South Pacific have spurred change.

A substantial part of the resource-rich Pacific Ocean – particularly the South Pacific – falls within the control of the small but numerous Pacific island nations. Given China’s recent lending habits and financial vulnerability these small island nations experience, Australia has reason to fear that these island nations might be entangled in a Chinese debt trap.

It is worth noting that China is already a major donor to the region, second only to Australia. Since 2011, China has provided concessionary loans and gifts to nations in the South Pacific worth over $1 billion, a significant amount of money for these small economies.

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© Asian Correspondent