Renting influence: China in the Pacific, with Jonathan Pryke and Dan McGarry


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By Rules Based Audio by the Lowy Institute and Lowy Institute. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Episode 15 of Rules Based Audio takes a look at China's interests, influence and intentions in the Pacific. Reports of a planned Chinese naval base in Vanuatu in 2018 helped focus policy makers’ attention on China’s strategic intentions and economic influence in the island nations of the south Pacific. But in many ways, the debate in Australia and the US lagged far behind the reality on the ground. These days the Chinese presence – from state owned enterprises, infrastructure projects, commercial ventures and a significant new wave of immigration – is, according to the director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands program Jonathan Pryke, everywhere in these tiny island nations. Jono talks us through the many dimensions of China in the Pacific. But first, a case study: Vanuatu is reaping over $100 million a year from the sale of passports, mostly to Chinese nationals; while there has been a big step up in Chinese loans and direct investment. But when earlier this year, Vanuatu-based journalist Dan McGarry reported on the secret dawn arrest of six Chinese nationals – by local police in the presence of Chinese security officials – who were then deported without charge to China, he apparently crossed a line for the island nation’s government. Mr McGarry has been refused re-entry to Vanuatu. I spoke to Mr McGarry about the ways the authoritarian giant’s influence is playing out in the tiny democratic nation of 280,000. Jonathan Pryke is the director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands program and Mr McGarry is the media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post. Rules Based Audio is a half-hour, fortnightly podcast covering stories from the cracks and faultlines in the global order, hosted by Kelsey Munro and powered by the Lowy Institute.

16 episodes