Australia, New Zealand should avoid misrepresenting China’s role

By Liu Lulu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/9 23:18:40

Australia and New Zealand are set to clinch a new security pact with their neighbors at the Pacific Islands Forum in September, a move seen by many observers as an attempt to offset China's growing influences in the region. 

While acknowledging China's contributions to the international order, New Zealand accused China of having not "consistently adopted the governance and values championed by the order's traditional leaders" in its Strategic Defense Policy Statement 2018. It also alleged that "China's more confident assertion" of interests in Asia has "raised tensions" with neighboring countries.

Although an Australian official claimed that the new security pact is not targeted at China, the country's vigilance of China's expanding influences is widely known. Last month, Canberra announced plans to pursue a security treaty with Vanuatu, just weeks after false media reports of China's preparations for building a military base there.

The world, including the Asia-Pacific region, has seen more uncertainties in recent years, and regional countries' inking a security agreement to reduce and eliminate the risks of uncertainties is beyond reproach. However, it must be noted that such uncertainties are attributed to many factors.

The Washington-led international policy pattern has gradually turned out to be inadaptable to today's development. Worse still, Washington, unwilling to accept China's rise, has been working to drive a wedge between China and Asia-Pacific countries, further destabilizing the region. As a result, China has been seeking every opportunity to cooperate with regional countries for fairer orders.

It would be a strategic mistake if the security pact is clinched to target China. To begin with, China has risen to the second largest economy in the world. Its economic might is being gradually transformed into a locomotive for regional cooperation.

More importantly, China's role in the South Pacific is actually welcomed by a majority of countries there. China has emerged as a major donor in the South Pacific, including in Forum countries Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, instilling momentum to the region's development. China provided $1.8 billion in aid and loans to South Pacific nations between 2006 and 2016, according to media reports.

How to share the developmental dividends of China's rise is a subject that the international community should ponder on. China's emergence is an irreversible trend, and any attempt to contain the country's growth runs contrary to the trend of the times. Instead of being overly cautious about China's rise, Australia and New Zealand should avoid misleading the region on China's role, and other regional countries should be clear about the consequences of being misled. The region will only suffer more losses from containing China.

Newspaper headline: Australia, NZ should avoid misrepresenting China’s role

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