Big enough for all of us: geo-strategic competition in the Pacific Islands

International relations Competition Pacific Area

China's growing engagement in the Pacific Islands has fueled talk of great-power competition in the region.  But viewing China's activities in the region in geo-strategic terms is inappropriate and potentially counter-productive.  Australia and the United States should focus on cooperating with China in aid and investment activities that support Pacific Island development priorities rather than building new security arrangements designed to compete with or manage China.

Key findings:

  • The rise of Chinese influence, which is driven predominantly by diverse commercial interests, does not presage a new era of geo-strategic competition in the Pacific Islands.
  • China’s engagement in the Pacific Islands is overshadowed by the dominance Australia enjoys in aid, trade, investment and defence links with the Pacific Islands region.
  • Increased external interest presents a new opportunity for Pacific Islands to achieve their development goals.
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