Considered â€˜peripheralâ€™ in Chinese foreign policy, Melanesia has nevertheless experienced a steady growth in Chinese interests this century, particularly leading up to APEC 2018. This interest brought with it the Belt and Road Initiative â€“ Chinaâ€™s economic quest for global influence, and the public face of Chinaâ€™s grand strategy. Drawing on research from 2017 and 2019, this article examines what changed after PNG joined the BRI in June 2018. It consults a range of well-informed Chinese and PNG perspectives to discern what the BRI means for Melanesia and how Melanesians are responding to it. Is this economic development, geoeconomic influence or both?
|Published - 2020