Security Challenges
Volume 16, No.1 (2020)

China in the Pacific and Traditional Powers’ New Pacific Policies: Concerns, Responses and Trends

China’s rise in the Pacific has been a major driver of the United States, Australia and New Zealand’s respective “Pacific Pledge”, “Pacific step-up” and “Pacific reset” policies. This paper examines these new policies and the concerns about China that lie behind them, how China has responded and trends in China-Pacific relations. It argues that China will continue its own way of engagement with the Pacific, but that it may respond assertively if it perceives its Belt and Road Initiative is under threat from the traditional powers’ new Pacific policies. Focusing on trade, aid and tourism, the research suggests that, although China has made fast inroads into the region since 2006, it still lags behind the United States, New Zealand and especially Australia in important ways, which is unlikely to change in the short term.

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