China’s ‘influence’ in the Pacific region has hit the mainstream, recently featuring in a 60 Minutes documentary called The China Syndrome, which warned that the Luganville wharf in Vanuatu, built with a concessional loan from China Exim Bank, ‘could leave Australia’s east coast open to a military attack.’ In this session, recorded as a live episode of the Little Red Podcast with former NPR and BBC correspondent Louisa Lim, Pacific scholars and media practitioners will discuss the reality behind the noise. The session will drill down on specific controversies—Huawei’s aborted Pacific cable, the alleged plan for a military base in Vanuatu—and flesh out new trends in China’s aid, investment and migration in region, including those flagged by the Lowy Institute’s new map of Chinese Aid in the Pacific. The session will provide historical context to current tensions and address the largely untouched question—what does the Pacific make of all this fuss?
Chairs: Graeme Smith, Fellow, Department of Pacific Affairs, ANU & Louisa Lim, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne
Speakers: Nicola Baker, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Diplomacy and International Affairs Programme, School of Government, Development and International Affairs, USP
George Carter, PhD Candidate, Department of Pacific Affairs, ANU
Dan McGarry, Media Director, Vanuatu Daily Post
Jonathan Pryke, Director, Pacific Islands Program, the Lowy Institute