Report: China targets 2 diplomatic allies with Pacific aid

Oct 31, 2022, 12:41 AM | Updated: 12:42 am
FILE - A man walks past a development site for a Chinese Investment bank in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, Apri...

FILE - A man walks past a development site for a Chinese Investment bank in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, April 10, 2019. Beijing was targeting its Pacific aid to new diplomatic allies Solomon Islands and Kiribati while Chinese financial support across the region continued to decline, the Lowy Institute has reported, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in its latest annual analysis of regional aid. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

(AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Beijing was targeting its Pacific aid to new diplomatic allies Solomon Islands and Kiribati while Chinese financial support across the region continued to decline, the Lowy Institute reported Monday in its latest annual analysis of regional assistance.

China’s aid to the Pacific has fallen from a peak of $287 million in 2016 to $187 million in 2020 — the lowest level since 2008, when the Sydney-based international policy think tank began quantifying support for developing island nations in the Pacific.

At the same time, pandemic response measures drove Pacific aid to a record $4.25 billion in 2020, a 47% increase on the previous year, Lowy’s Pacific Aid Map report showed.

Only 5% of Chinese aid to the Pacific was allocated to pandemic-related support, the report found.

The institute does not yet have complete data for 2021, but preliminary results suggest the decline in Chinese aid has continued.

Pacific Aid Map Project Director Alexandre Dayant said China was investing more into the Solomon Islands and Kiribati — Pacific countries that switched their diplomatic allegiances from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019 — than Taiwan had provided.

“Chinese aid remains a key diplomatic tool for Beijing in the Pacific,” Dayant said.

“New development financing has become closely targeted to specific countries,” he added, naming Kiribati and the Solomons.

While Taiwan had provided $8 million to $9 million a year to the Solomons’ so-called Constituency Development Funds, Beijing was now contributing $11 million to $12 million, Dayant said.

The funds are allocated directly to lawmakers to spend and are criticized as a source of corruption.

Beijing has also increased the scale of infrastructure planned for the Solomons to host the regional Pacific Games next year, Dayant said, describing China’s investment in the Solomon Islands as small but increasing rapidly.

China was also planning to finance an airliner for Kiribati to boost its tourism industry in a deal that would not have met Taiwan’s aid program rules, Dayant said.

Australia’s new government has promised greater engagement with its Pacific neighbors. It blames neglect by its predecessor for China striking a bilateral security deal with the Solomons early this year that raised fears of a Chinese naval base being established in the South Pacific.

Australia, the biggest aid donor to the Pacific, announced in the government’s annual budget last week an additional 900 million Australian dollars ($570 million) in aid for the Pacific region.

Lowy researchers pointed to several reasons for China’s dwindling aid in the region, including a slowing domestic economy.

Pacific leaders were becoming wary of “white elephant” Chinese infrastructure projects and of falling into potential debt traps, Dayant said.

With the United States and its allies attempting to counter China’s growing influence in the Pacific, Pacific leaders now had more potential development partners to choose from.

Lowy’s Pacific Islands Program Director Meg Keen noted that Papua New Guinea had not taken on a new Chinese loan in three years.

Samoa had recently decided against borrowing from China to upgrade its port.

“We’re seeing different assessments of risk and return, different modes of operation, but really importantly, the Pacific island countries making choices about what will serve their development interests best, and they have more choices because there’s competition,” Keen said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - A Chinese Embassy staff member gestures to stop taking photos outside the embassy accommodation building in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, April 8, 2019. Beijing was targeting its Pacific aid to new diplomatic allies Solomon Islands and Kiribati while Chinese financial support across the region continued to decline, the Lowy Institute has reported, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in its latest annual analysis of regional aid. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)
            
              FILE - A man walks past a development site for a Chinese Investment bank in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, April 10, 2019. Beijing was targeting its Pacific aid to new diplomatic allies Solomon Islands and Kiribati while Chinese financial support across the region continued to decline, the Lowy Institute has reported, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in its latest annual analysis of regional aid. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

AP

Associated Press

Spain hosts EU-Med summit to discuss energy crisis

MADRID (AP) — The leaders of nine Mediterranean and Southern European countries planned to meet Friday in Spain, with the energy crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine likely to top the agenda. The EU-Med9 meeting in the eastern port city of Alicante brings together the leaders of Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, […]
2 hours ago
Medical workers in protective overalls walk past a line outside the fever clinic of a hospital in B...
Associated Press

China struggles with COVID infections after controls ease

BEIJING (AP) — A rash of COVID-19 cases in schools and businesses were reported by social media users Friday in areas across China after the ruling Communist Party loosened anti-virus rules as it tries to reverse a deepening economic slump. Official data showed a fall in new cases, but those no longer cover big parts […]
2 hours ago
FILE - Ukraine Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko walks outside of the International Monetary Fund (...
Associated Press

Helping Ukraine is ‘self-preservation,’ finance chief says

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Ukraine’s finance minister says crucial Western financial support is “not charity” but “self-preservation” in the fight to defend democracy as his country deals with growing costs to repair electrical and heating infrastructure wrecked by Russian attacks. Serhiy Marchenko also told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday from Kyiv that he […]
2 hours ago
People walk by monitors showing an exchange rate of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar at a s...
Associated Press

Asian shares advance on back of Wall Street gains

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares rose in Asia on Friday after an advance on Wall Street led by the latest rally in technology companies. Chinese benchmarks rose on reports the government is planning new measures to support the ailing property sector, which has dragged on growth over the past several years. The relaxation of some of […]
2 hours ago
A general view of pupils during lunch hour at Hillstone Primary School, in Birmingham, England, Wed...
Associated Press

UK cost-of-living woes stir push for more free school meals

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — As the school bell rings, dozens of children begin filing into the canteen at Hillstone Primary School. The day’s offering, a roast dinner, is a popular one, and many are eager to tuck into their plates of turkey slices, roasted potatoes, broccoli and gravy. For some children in this area of […]
2 hours ago
Cargo trucks move into a port in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. Thousands of South Korea...
Associated Press

South Korean truckers end 16-day strike over freight rates

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of South Korean truckers are returning to work after voting Friday to end their 16-day walkout that disrupted construction and other domestic industries. Thousands of truckers seeking financial protections as fuel prices rise went on strike Nov. 24. The government took aggressive steps to minimize interruptions such as by […]
2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Report: China targets 2 diplomatic allies with Pacific aid