Jacinda is off to the Pacific to desperately try to counter Chinese influence throughout the Pacific…
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on five-day Pacific Island charm offensive
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is on a five-day charm offensive in the Pacific as Foreign Minister Winston Peters signals a ”reset” and increased aid for the region to try to maintain influence.
Ardern is on her first so-called ”Pacific Mission” travelling with other MPs, business and community delegates to Samoa, Niue, Tonga and Rarotonga.
It is a route that was also travelled by her predecessors, John Key and Bill English.
Ardern told reporters there was a whole range of issues facing the Pacific – including climate change, resource use and globalisation.
…now, we could spend money on basic infrastructure or aid, but China can out spend us so how can NZ maintain its influence in the Pacific while desperately countering the outrageous level of corruption China promotes and so many Pacific Governments revel in?
Auckland is the largest Pacific Island City and we do little to celebrate or leverage off that. We need to look at offering fundamental migration opportunities for Tuvalu, Tokelau and Kiribati who face the worst impacts of climate change but we also need to think outside the square in terms of not only countering Chinese influence but beating it.
I think two ways NZ could uniquely promote its interests into the Pacific against China could be via Rugby Diplomacy and Journalism.
The All Blacks doing a tour of the South Pacific would actually be of huge cultural and sporting importance and something the Government should sponsor with taxpayer dollars to help subsidise the costs to the All Blacks as a sign of respect to the sporting and cultural contribution Pacific Island nations have provided NZ.
Why shouldn’t we use Rugby as a diplomatic tool to build standing throughout the Pacific? It’s something China couldn’t match and something NZ could excel at.
Likewise Journalism. AUT run the excellent Pacific Media Centre to promote quality Journalism throughout the Pacific. What if NZ saw the promotion of quality Journalism as a craft throughout the Pacific as a strong way to counter corruption and Chinese influence? Scholarships, Pacific News Media websites, support of local ethical journalism these could be the pillars of promoting corruption free politics and holding those Governments to account.
Rugby diplomacy and promotion of Journalistic standards throughout the Pacific could counter China and promote NZs strategic interests.
We can’t outspend China, but we can play a far smarter game.