Chinese economic diplomacy towards the Oceania Island States in the 21st Century

Oceania island states are an important part of China’s grand peripheral strategy. In the first decade of the 21st century, the relationships between China and Oceania island states present the full range of development. Chinese economic diplomacy in the areas of trade, investment and development assistance towards Oceania island states has achieved fruitful results. China’s peaceful rise and comprehensive development have brought about great benefits to the outside world, including island nations in Oceania.

However, there are some real and potential problems which should be overcome, including that trade volume between China and those island countries is small, and its composition lacks diversity (household goods from China, primary resources from the Pacific), thus the space for development is quite limited. China’s investment in the island states focuses on the resource and infrastructure sectors, with the government enterprises playing a major role; the efficiency and competiveness of those enterprises are barely satisfactory, and the social responsibilities of these enterprises should be improved. Chinese economic assistance to the island countries is growing fast, but it lacks a sophisticated plan. There is also a lack of accountability, and too much political guidance.

Dr Yu Changsen is an Associate Professor at the School of Pacific Studies, Sun Yatsen University, Guangzhou, China. As an executive director, Dr Yu is currently in charge of the National Center for Oceania Studies attached to the university. He obtained a doctorate in World History at Xiamen University in 1992. He teaches Australian foreign policy and international strategy at the Department of International Relations. From 1998 to 1999, he was a visiting scholar at Griffith University and at the Australian National University. He is the co-editor in chief of the annual Blue Book of Oceania, which is the standard reference work for Chinese policymakers. His English publications include “Australia-China Economic Relations: a General Review” in Australia China at Forty (University of Sydney Press, 2012) and “The Dilemma of Interdependence, Current Features and Trends in Sino-Australian Relations” in the Australian Journal of International Affairs.

Presented by the State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific