The new Pacific Aid budget is only part of the solution

By   /   May 10, 2018  /   9 Comments

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We can’t outspend China, but we can play a far smarter game.

$714m to be pumped into govt’s ‘Pacific reset’ plan

The government is set to hike foreign aid by more than $700 million over the next four years, as part of its signalled ‘Pacific reset’ strategy.

We should be doing this because we have obligations to our Pacific neighbours who are blighted by poverty and climate change. National turned Pacific Aid on its head when it was transformed into a subsidy for NZ business to do things in the Pacific rather than genuine aid.

The geopolitical argument is that we need to counter Chinese influence, which is inane.

China will always have more money than us, so our aid should be genuine rather than as a mechanism to play Chess against the Chinese, but that’s not to say that we shouldn’t;t look to other ways to build our influence outside of aid.

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.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Castro says:

    “We” are part of China. Game over.

  2. CLEANGREEN says:

    “We can’t outspend China, but we can play a far smarter game.”

    yes how very true – this is especially since we still have the homeless and those with out a real 40 hrs a week job to support a family with a reasonable live, so have many issues to deal with today after nine years of slash and cut politics from National.
    Our infrastructure is crumbling and our regional rail and roads are systematically being destroyed by lack of maintenance for both rail & road.

    Also increased heavier use of freight trucks rather than rail is causing severe road gridlock, so we need help now to survive here in the provinces.

  3. roy cartland says:

    A practical use for rugby – never thought I’d see the day. Great idea.

  4. Red Buzzard says:

    +100 …great Post …interesting ideas…and possibly eventually the pacific will be sick of being run and over run by the Chinese ( as they have in Africa)

    NZ has a lot more culturally in common with the Pacific than do the Chinese

  5. Michelle says:

    I think we need to help our Pasifika cousins to be more self reliant.
    We need to heavily invest in them so they have the means to help themselves. We also need to act as a backup so when they need us we are there, just a text or phone call away. We also need to stop taking them for granted and using them when it suits our needs. They helped us in a time of need (labour, war) and we treated them bad.(dawn raids)

  6. Sam Sam says:

    S. Pacific Island people speak English as a first or second language. They do not speak Chinese as a first or second language. They come to New Zealand to learn specific areas of management. They don’t come here to learn how to govern. There fore university scholarships should double until S. Pacific people satisfy there consumer needs, and double again until they satisfy there governance needs. Coupled with closer defence & trade relationships it’s difficult to imagine a more straight forward, cost effective scheme of outflanking direct forign investment.

  7. […] I agree that aid isn’t enough to combat Chinese influence, that’s why I suggest Rugby Diplomacy and promotion of Journalism in the Pacific, but that doesn’t mean that aid isn’t needed or […]

  8. Lone comet says:

    Take into account we are also close to the Pacific, China is not, although money does count practically for material wellbeing and this is rightly everyone’s first concern for their basic needs.
    However nobody wants to be anybody’s lackey lest of all Pacifica peoples. Soft diplomacy as you suggest should be an adjunct to real financial, educational citizenship/ permanent resident opportunities here in NZ….we need to ensure a special relationship with Pacifica proples. We need to think of ourselves as a Mothership and connected in important ways to our fellow Pacific nations…because we are connected and the threat of a Chinese military presence in our Pacific backyard is making that quite plain.

  9. Siobhan says:

    “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”

    brilliant idea Martyn, maybe we could do that in NZ to start with, then build on that….