Monday 08 Aug 2022 | 11:39 | SYDNEY
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Pacific Islands

PNG’s election a violent event

Violence is a mainstay of Papua New Guinea’s elections. As I write this article, tensions are high in the capital Port Moresby. Reports of machete wielding men slashing innocent by-standers along the city’s main roads and fears of retaliation fill my social media feed. Schools and business

What happened at the Pacific Islands Forum

The Suva Agreement – created in response to a broken handshake agreement over who would be the next Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General – was endorsed by all present members at the meeting in Fiji. Kiribati was unable to vote on it, being absent from the forum and withdrawn as a member over

Pacific Islands Forum meeting: the black cloud returns

“My fellow Micronesians,” a proud David Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia said last month, “A black cloud has disappeared from the Pacific.” Panuelo was referring to the deal struck between three Micronesian leaders and three Polynesian leaders – the Suva Agreement

Insights from Africa as China stumbles in the Pacific

Earlier this month, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi concluded a 10-day tour of the Pacific, touching down in Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, as well as Timor-Leste (skipping Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, and the Marshall Islands, which maintain relations with

China-Solomon Islands pact: Reading between the lines

What we know so far about the content of the China-Solomon Islands security pact, announced in April, points to Beijing’s preoccupation with the internal protection of its “interests” in Solomon Islands. This begs closer scrutiny, particularly following Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s whirlwind

Competing with China in the Pacific will backfire

Australia, Pacific Island countries, and their partners, are each considering how to respond to China’s push for a Pacific economic and security pact. Australia, for its part, should avoid temptation to match, or exceed, China’s commitments. Instead, building genuine partnerships that address

Don’t saddle Pacific Islands with disaster debt

Pacific Islands are facing a serious debt crisis that has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown of the tourism industry. Research based on International Monetary Fund country reports shows that average debt-to-GDP ratio for Pacific states has risen from 32.9 per cent in

Labor’s Pacific plan: ticking the economic box

Penny Wong, Australia’s new Foreign Minister, has quickly headed to the Pacific Island region inside her first week in the role. Wong’s intentions appear twofold: a counterbalance to the eight-nation tour of the Pacific by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also occurring this week, and to

PNG and the Solomon Islands-China security agreement

Reactions to the security agreement between Solomon Islands and China were swift and relentless. Much of the rhetoric is creating needless anxieties. It demonstrates that an unwritten rule exists in the practice of Pacific diplomacy. Supposedly sovereign Pacific states must choose wisely who they do

Chinese bases in the Pacific: A reality check

There was barely concealed panic in Australia when news broke that China had struck a security agreement with Solomon Islands. What if this is really a basing deal that allows China to station military aircraft or warships permanently? Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s emphatic denial on

Fixing Australia’s failing Pacific Step-up strategy

Publicly, Australia’s Pacific Step-up aims to win friends and influence people. Behind this facade however, a core purpose is to make sure the Pacific Islands don’t embrace China, just as Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has done. This clear failure may suggest abandoning

Solomons security pact: Sogavare, China, and Australia

Labor has described Solomon Islands’ security pact with China as Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the Pacific since the Second World War, but this is hyperbole. Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the region – ever – is its failure to address (at both a national and

Economic diplomacy: Priorities shift amid a budget aid boost

Back to the future The Morrison government gave the development aid sector an unexpected surprise with a budget spending increase mostly in the Pacific, just as the latest crisis in Solomon Islands was occurring. There is still plenty of grumbling that this – perhaps parting gift given the

Changing our view of Pacific visas

Much to the disappointment of Agricultural Minister David Littleproud, in February the Australian Agricultural Visa (“Ag Visa”) was reportedly rejected by Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam. These were three of the four nations invited to join the scheme (Indonesia, which expressed interest,