An easy way to get noticed in ‘policy circles’ is to write about how Australia and New Zealand are losing the Commonwealth nations of the Pacific to China. This geopolitical feeding frenzy draws in secret satellite dishes, bugs in submarine cables, a battle with Taiwan for votes, and President Xi Jinping’s grand-strategy-cum-bumper-sticker called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that now seems to cover everything China does abroad. Beneath the blaring headlines lies a question: does the Commonwealth resonate at all for Chinese people recently arrived in the Pacific? Are Chinese actors looking to build a new commonwealth in the Pacific, based on the BRI’s principles of ‘peace and co-operation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit’?
|Published - 2018