Australia’s international development minister, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, found herself in a fix last week after she claimed that China’s aid in the Pacific produced “useless buildings” and “roads to nowhere” while “duchessing” politicians. Australia’s relations with China, already at their lowest ebb in years, took another blow, and Xinhua News’s Canberra correspondent bestowed on Australia the title of “arrogant overlord” of the Pacific.
In the region itself, Samoan prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele suggested that the minister’s remarks could “destroy” Australia’s relationship with island nations. He zeroed in on China’s willingness to provide aid to deal with the impact of climate change. The media director of the Vanuatu Daily Postnoted that while “we are right to question the design, implementation and price of some of these projects… these roads are not ‘roads to nowhere.’ They lead to our homes.”