35. Australia, the PRC, and the Pacific - with Tess Newton Cain


Manage episode 231404609 series 2501497
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The Pacific has become much more central to foreign policy discussions in Australia over the last few years, with clear political bipartisanship on the need to forge closer ties with Pacific nations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison in November last year declared that Australia would ‘step up’ in the Pacific and take its engagement with the region to ‘a new level’. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledged in parallel that ‘a Labor Government will put the Pacific front and centre in our regional foreign policy’. Prime Minister Morrison during his November Pacific ‘step up’ speech announced a vast swathe of initiatives across the diplomatic, military, financial and people-to-people realms for engagement with countries in the Pacific. What are the major driving forces behind Australia’s Pacific ‘step-up’, and how has it been received by Pacific nations? Australia’s increasing focus on the Pacific has come against the backdrop of increased engagement by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with Pacific nations and Australian concerns about the regional balance of power. A major question that policymakers and analysts are grappling with is what the motivations behind China’s activities in the Pacific are. What is the nature of the PRC’s engagement with the Pacific, and how effective is it? How have Australian and PRC initiatives been received by Pacific nations thus far? And what scope might there be for cooperation between Australia, the PRC, and Pacific nations in regional development? Dr Tess Newton Cain, an independent researcher and consultant with over 20 years of experience in governance, policy and political analysis of the Pacific Islands region, joins Elena Collinson, senior researcher at the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to discuss these questions and more. Dr Newton Cain provides insights on the Australian strategic debate with respect to the PRC and the Pacific, the PRC’s ambitions in the region, as well as – importantly – the views of Pacific nations, and more.

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