Cooperation between China, Pacific island nations in line with globalization trend

By Yu Lei Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/22 21:28:40

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

The US and Australia have been promoting the news that a Chinese company inked an agreement with the Solomon Islands to build an economic development zone in the latter's Tulagi Island. Such normal bilateral cooperation has, once again, been used to demonize Chinese investment and the mutually beneficial relations between China and South Pacific island nations. 

The faster circulation of commodities, capital, techniques and personnel between China and the Pacific island countries is an inevitable result of globalization. It is also the byproduct of these countries' governments and people seeking better economic development and an improvement to the local quality of life. Cooperation between China and Pacific island nations is in accordance with the trend of globalization and the traditional world economic order. The new generation of leaders in those island countries realize the importance of "looking north" to engage in economic cooperation with Asian countries including China.

The acceleration of economic and trade cooperation between China and Pacific island nations stems from the joint construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road by the two sides, as well as the island nations' policy of looking north.

Most of the South Pacific island countries have looked to Western economics since they gained independence, and have adopted free economic polices. The majority have ended up with deteriorating economies and various other hardships. Groups of Asian countries have achieved growth in leaps and bounds since the 1980s. China's massive poverty alleviation efforts and growing wealth offer hope for  leaders in those island nations trying to eliminate their development predicaments. 

Given the benefits island countries receive from the 21st century Maritime Silk Road initiative and their looking north policy, learning governance and economic strategy from Asian countries naturally enters mainstream thought. Bilateral cooperation between China and South Pacific island nations will continue to expand, as the deep involvement of Chinese companies in local economies becomes normal.

China achieved an economic take-off after 40 years of reform and opening-up. It has narrowed its GDP gap with the US. Now, China's overall economic volume is nine times higher than that of Australia, and 68 times higher than that of New Zealand. There are nearly 10,000 Chinese companies listed at home and abroad, with sufficient funds, advanced technologies and global visions. Chinese companies are investing not only in developed countries, but also increasingly in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The Ramu Nickel project, based in the province of Madang, Papua New Guinea, is typical of projects operated by China's large-scale enterprises in Pacific island nations. The project has also become a focal point for Western countries including the US and Australia to attack and demonize China. It was successfully implemented after seven tumultuous years. By studying this case, it is clear that governments and societies of Pacific island nations have the tenacity and determination to develop mutually beneficial cooperation with China. As the China-proposed 21st Century Maritime Silk Road meets with Pacific island nations' policy of looking north, major projects like Ramu Nickel and an economic development zone in Tulagi are bound to continue in the future.

The altered geopolitical and economic landscape after the Cold War has proven that the pursuit of peace and development is a mainstream, global trend. Looking at the world's history, it is evident that if people act against the dominant trend of the times, their actions will be in vain. Rational-thinking people in Pacific island countries are calling for win-win cooperation between China and Western nations, warning against unprovoked attacks and the demonization of China. Public opinion in the US, Australia and other Western countries should shift following these exhortations.

The author is a chief research fellow at the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries, Liaocheng University in Shandong Province.


blog comments powered by Disqus