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China, Diplomacy, Taiwan, Vanuatu

Check-book diplomacy returns to Pacific: Oehlers

A professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii has warned against the ‘disturbing’ return of check-book diplomacy in the Pacific.

Alfred Oehlers cites Vanuatu’s on-again off-again relationship with Moscow over the issue of recognition of Abkhazia as evidence of this ‘trend.’

Oehlers says the playing-off of governments against each other- Vanuatu’s waxing and waning relations with Taiwan and China is another example— is destabilizing and can instill corruption

‘In stirring already troubled political waters in many nations, such practices may throw an added dimension of uncertainty into relationships between Pacific nations, exacerbating difficulties in advancing the project of Pacific regionalism.’

Oehlers calls on Pacific Islands’ traditional donors to ask some controversial questions in discouraging check-book diplomacy, ‘What, for example, might a truly sober and realistic assessment of the future economic viability of these nations say? Given many Pacific nations small economic base, is there a case for examining the ‘right-sizing’ of government? How might citizens’ expectations be managed and their rights protected? And is there a need for the donor community to re-assess its approach to assistance in these island states, nuancing modalities and coordination to better address recipient states’ concerns?’

The full article can be read at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies 

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About Samantha Magick

Journalist and editor

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