Friday 03 Jul 2020 | 07:32 | SYDNEY
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Pacific Islands

Solomon Islands gets a lesson in Chinese diplomacy

China’s efforts to marginalise Taiwan and promote its “One China” policy has been a challenge for many countries. Some have diplomatic relations with Beijing while continuing to pursue trade and cultural links with Taiwan. The US can do this because it is a global power. This was clearly

A crowded house on the Bougainville ballot

There’s been little rest for democracy in Bougainville. After a break of a few months, the Autonomous Region of Papua New Guinea is plunging back into politics, with elections formally launched this week for its regional House of Representatives. Coronavirus had forced a delay to the process,

Debt threatens Digicel’s Pacific dominance

When it comes to mobile networks in the Pacific Islands region, Digicel is dominant. More than 2.6 million subscribers mean its SIM cards power more handsets in the region than any other provider.   But the telco’s US$7 billion debt has been

Hard knocks at University of the South Pacific

For 50 years the University of the South Pacific (USP) has been seen as a jewel in the crown of Pacific regionalism. With campuses in 12 island nations, about 20,000 students and 1,500 staff, USP is one of the great connective tissues for the large “blue continent” that is the Pacific. Its

New Zealand and China: Contending with words and actions

New Zealand was one of the more than 130 countries which, at the recent World Health Assembly, sponsored a resolution setting up an independent inquiry into Covid-19 – a proposal initially rejected by China. New Zealand also backed Taiwan gaining observer status at the World Health Organisation,

Can Pacific airlines pull out of the dive?

“People who invest in aviation are the biggest suckers in the world.”– David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways “If you want to be a millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline.”– Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways The last few

New Caledonia: coronavirus deepens the divide

Four months out from New Caledonia’s next scheduled vote on independence, a pro-independence leader has denounced France’s handling of the Covid pandemic in the territory as colonialist and partisan, and called for the expulsion of France’s senior political and military representatives. The

West Papua: Looking for an opening

When the world is grappling with the kind of calamity few of us have experienced before, it can be easy to forget other crises. Climate change springs to mind. So, too, does the record level of human displacement around the world, a problem largely driven by conflict. That brings us to the long-

PNG and Covid-19: The costs of economic stress

Papua New Guinea has grappled with economic instability for years, exacerbated by generally declining global commodity prices, increasing national debt and allegations of fiscal mismanagement. None of this is helped by high rates of population growth and unemployment. Now the coronavirus pandemic

Samoa’s constitutional crisis: Undermining rule of law

While the global community struggles to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, Samoa is embroiled in a constitutional crisis. The South Pacific nation is frequently lauded for its good governance and regional leadership. The current crisis, however, has exposed fault lines around race and identity that

Creating a Pacific bubble

The success in containing the Covid-19 pandemic in both Australia and New Zealand has led to a novel idea – the opening up of trans-Tasman travel as long as each country is able to keep infections under control. It would be a ray of hope and normalcy, and an economic plus for both parties. While

Discontinued: America’s Continuous Bomber Presence

Since 2004, the US Air Force has rotated heavy bombers through the Western Pacific island of Guam. But no more. The Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), which started in President George W. Bush’s first term and continued through President Barack Obama’s two terms, has now been abruptly terminated

Debating constitutional change in Samoa

Proposed changes to Samoa’s Constitution have provoked fierce debate. The views of the Prime Minister, the former Head of State, the judiciary, chiefly leaders, current and former government officials, the Samoa Law Society, and many others have been widely reported in the Samoan media. At the

Notes on representing Australia in Papua New Guinea

Jon Philp, who commenced as Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea early this month, is the 16th to serve as Australia’s lead diplomatic representative in Port Moresby. I know from experience that the role is unlike any other in the Australian foreign service. The incumbent has the

New Zealand: Running the marathon

Earlier this week, New Zealand moved out of total lockdown into a phase of continuing control on social movement, but with an opening of widespread economic activity. Schools reopened partially. It is estimated that about half a million people returned to work after a stand down of five weeks.

New Zealand: Life under lockdown and the view of outside

Where are we in the fourth week of lockdown in New Zealand? The borders are sealed. As I was writing this, the Flight Radar 24 app had only two domestic flights taking place across the entire country. There were no outbound international flights, and only three aircraft heading in. The

Covid-19 and Pacific labour

As borders close and globalisation contracts, consider the impact on the Pacific Island neighbours. Many countries in the region rely on labour mobility, with workers sent to Australian and New Zealand to help with fruit picking and work in regional areas. Workers on these schemes send around A$9,

Covid-19: Averting economic disaster in the Pacific

Six locations across the Pacific Islands region now have confirmed cases of Covid-19. Many of these countries are already ravaged with major diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, dengue, diabetes, and occasionally even polio. So Pacific politicians are all too conscious of the potential of any

Covid-19: New Zealand, isolated, yet far from alone

Tumultuous times. Along with every other country, New Zealand faces an uncertain period. Remoteness might mitigate some impact of Covid-19, but it does not provide protection from the consequences of global disruption. It is hard to imagine in late January as the disease took hold in Wuhan that

PNG: Coronavirus promises a testing time for Marape

It’s been a volatile week for the PNG Hunters. The Papua New Guinea rugby league team was celebrating on Sunday after staging a late comeback to clinch a 32-30 win against the Souths Logan Magpies in the first round of the Queensland Intrust Super Cup last weekend. The Hunters were supposed to

Anticipating Covid‑19 in the Pacific

With the confirmation of a coronavirus case in French Polynesia, the Pacific has officially joined the pandemic. The Covid-19 crisis could have dramatic impacts on the small island states. Understanding and managing critical risks, as well as strengthening the resilience of these small and

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