Chinese Influence in TIMOR-Leste? Who is too worried about it?

By José Manuel Ramos-Horta Source: Published: 2017/9/1 19:55:10


Well well..another silly journalist writing with some imagination about the "dangerous China man" in TIMOR-Leste. 

But this time is not an Australian journalist or academic imagining "Chinese influence" in TIMOR-Leste. It is a Japanese journalist.

And Japanese journalists notoriously cannot and don't want to pretend to be "objective" when writing about China.

Mr. Jun Suzuki-San wrote in Nikkei newspaper: "East Timor sits at a geopolitically strategic point, between the Pacific and Indian oceans, and neighbors fear China will boost its presence in the country not only economically but also militarily. These are not unfounded fears -- Chinese warships paid their first visit to Dili last year."

In the 15 years since restoration of independence a Chinese warship made one friendly port call. In the same period we have had numerous US, Australian and French warships dropping anchor in our port. All had warm reception. Nothing extraordinary. 

Some of the biggest contracts ever signed off by TL Govt companies were not to Chinese but to a French company, for the new Dili deep water port valued at $400 million, and to a Korean (South Korea) company for the Suai supply base project valued at $700 million.

Suzuki-san seems to be poorly informed. Understandable. Like most journalists Suzuki-San drop in for a day or two, arriving with anti-Chinese prejudices in his notebook and looked for signs of the dangerous "China man".

China is a major global economic and financial player; it holds trillions of dollars of US sovereign debt. China is investing all over the world, including in Australia.

Who should worry about Chinese influence and where?

But the moment the Chinese build a building or two here in TL they cry wolf.

But we shouldn't really mind silly journalist and academic dramatisations of the influence of the "China man" in TIMOR-Leste. 

The author is Former President of East Timor. This article is a reprint.


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