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How the China Card is Played in New Caledonia
As China’s international profile grows, debates over Chinese influence occupy a significant role in New Caledonian politics, as elsewhere. The idea that independence from France will inevitably result in New Caledonia being strategically dominated by China is a popular theme in the rhetoric of the nonindependentist ‘no’ camp, which seeks to remain French. But the independentist ‘yes’ camp, which strives for New Caledonia to become a sovereign state, neutralises this claim by transferring fears of China back towards France and the ‘no’ camp. Both camps use the China card to try to influence Australia’s position on New Caledonia in their favour. French government officials and academics also play up the threat of China to the French Pacific. However, hard evidence of Beijing’s alleged designs on New Caledonia is circumstantial and, so far, less compelling than for almost everywhere else in the Pacific.