China's activities in the Pacific Islands are being viewed in the same light as its growing geo-strategic role in Asia. Australia's recent Defence White Paper 2013 cautioned that Australia's role in the Pacific may well be balanced in the future by the growing influence of Asian nations. America has stepped up its aid to the Pacific out of concern for China's rising influence.
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Big Enough For All Of Us: Geo-Strategic Competition in the Pacific Islands, Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of The Myer Foundation Melanesia Program, argues that it is inaccurate and potentially counter-productive to view China's activities in the region in geo-strategic terms (an argument immediately picked up in the media).
In this short video Jenny discusses her main arguments with Lowy Institute Research Associate Dr Philippa Brant, including how she was motivated to write the paper in response to the constant question she received from visitors to the Lowy Institute (‘so what is China up to the Pacific?; see 0:30). Jenny says her arguments challenge what many in this field are writing about China's motivations in the Pacific (1:09, 2:32) and, in a quirky insight, she admits she 'stole' the title for her Analysis from Hillary Clinton's comment at last year's Pacific Islands Forum that the region is 'big enough for us all' (0:20).
'Rather than speculate on China’s future ambitions, Australia and the United States should focus on making more of their evolving relationships with China, and cooperate with China in aid and investment activities that support Pacific Island development priorities', Jenny says.