A View from Afar – In this podcast, political scientist Paul Buchanan and Selwyn Manning analyse how the Pacific region has become the epicentre of foreign policy assertions from the region's, and the world's, powers.
This month has seen the United States President Joe Biden forward commit to increasing the USA's presence in the Pacific. The announcement was pitched
during a Whitehouse meeting in Washington DC with New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Meanwhile, at the same time, the People's Republic of China's foreign minister Wang Yi was on a whistle-stop series of meetings with Pacific regional leaders, seeking mutual agreements on investment, infrastructure development, and security.
And back in China, the PRC took exception to this element of the US-NZ joint statement where Biden and Ardern jointly stated: "... we note with concern the security agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Solomon Islands. In particular, the United States and New Zealand share a concern that the establishment of a persistent military presence in the Pacific by a state that does not share our values or security interests would fundamentally alter the strategic balance of the region and pose national-security concerns to both our countries."
That position compelled China's spokesperson for its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, to state: "We noted the relevant contents of the joint statement, which distorts and smears China’s normal cooperation with Pacific Island countries, deliberately hypes up the South China Sea issue, makes irresponsible remarks on and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs including issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. China is firmly opposed to this."
New Zealand is now positioned squarely on the fault-line between two opposing global powers.
Now add into the foreign policy mix the election of a new Labor Government in Australia where Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was quickly sworn in alongside his cabinet and then whisked off to a QUAD security pact leaders' summit, and, most recently has met with his Indonesian counterpart, President Joko Widodo, to discuss securing a more cooperative relationship between the two regional powers.
In this episode of A View from Afar Paul Buchanan and Selwyn Manning deep-dive into these events to determine what this all means and where the shifting sands of Pacific foreign policy is heading.
One this is for sure, the Pacific Islands Forum leaders' summit this year will be important and interesting.
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