China’s offering of a comprehensive security and economic pact to 10 Pacific nations shows it is confidently moving from a bilateral to a multilateral approach to the Pacific, and one that increasingly links trade with security. It is also an attempt to supplant the existing regional architecture of organisations like the Pacific Islands Forum.

As competing foreign ministers Penny Wong and Wang Yi woo the region, Pacific nations will use the opportunity to increase their leverage, and who can blame them after decades of neglect from their traditional partners. They need basic infrastructure, climate action and renewable energy solutions, and more trade. If Australia, New Zealand and the United States cannot provide it then it becomes difficult to argue Pacific nations should not accept it from China.



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