China’s partnership with Pacific nations irks some in West
Published: May 24, 2022 11:11 PM Updated: May 24, 2022 11:08 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit eight Pacific countries from May 26 to June 4 including the Solomon Islands, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Tuesday. Holding a sour-grapes mentality, Western media outlets, again, took the chance to warn of China's increasing "economic and geopolitical influence" in the Pacific island countries.

It's ridiculous for the Western media to play up the "China threat theory" by always telling lies and spewing disinformation. Won't it be better if those media could persuade the US and Australia to bolster their own economic engagement with Pacific countries?

There is little doubt that China is an important economic and trade partner of many Pacific island countries. From 1992 to 2021, trade between China and Pacific island countries that have established diplomatic ties has increased from $153 million to $5.3 billion, with an average annual growth of 13 percent and more than 30-fold increase in the past 30 years.

By the end of 2021, those Pacific island countries had received $2.72 billion worth of direct investment from China. Chinese investment increases infrastructure access and makes great contributions to economic development, providing large numbers of jobs to local residents.

Economic and trade relations between China and Pacific island countries are based on win-win cooperation and mutual benefit. However, some Western media outlets always politicize normal economic cooperation and warn about China's "increased clout." They hype the narrative of China as a "potential threat" in the South Pacific region because they regard the region as the US' and Australia's own backward. They should abandon narrow-minded geopolitical thinking when looking at the mutual beneficial cooperation between China and economies in the South Pacific region.

In this globalized time, no bilateral relationship is exclusive. It's natural that Pacific island countries develop their relations with China, the world second-largest economy.

Since a positive economic relationship between China and Pacific island countries have been established, some countries are not happy at all. For many years, these Pacific countries hold more strategic significance for the US and Australia. If the US and its allies, Australia included, can give more economic help to those Pacific island countries, why won't the US and its allies just do it? China is willing to see investment from the Western countries can bring more development opportunities to the South Pacific region.

Any resulting growth in Pacific island countries' economy is likely to offer a potential market for Chinese companies. However, the question remaining is how much can the US and Australia offer at a time when their own economies are slumping?

Over the past many years, the US and Australia had been so focused on containing China and countering China's "influence" in South Pacific region, but they did little to assist economies of Pacific island countries. If the US and Australia continue to see and use Pacific island nations as a strategic battlefield against China's rise, they are bound to be opposed by those nations.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.