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The Proliferation of External Geographies in Oceania: ‘It is Nice to be Relevant’

CollectionsDPA In Briefs (previously Briefing Notes)
Title: The Proliferation of External Geographies in Oceania: ‘It is Nice to be Relevant’
Author(s): Szadziewski, Henryk
Keywords: Geopolitics;international relations;diplomacy;international relations;geopolitics;regionalism;multilateralism;governance;Pacific;Oceania;Oceans;Blue Pacific;Fisheries;Tuna Fishing;Pacific Diplomacy
Date published: 6-Dec-2021
Publisher: Canberra, ACT: Dept. of Pacific Affairs, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, The Australian National University
Series/Report no.: Department of Pacific Affairs In Brief series: 2021/34
Oceania has become the subject of a proliferation of new policies towards it by external powers (Smith and Wesley-Smith 2021). The economic presence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a leading factor in the development of these Pacific agendas, opening a new era of uncertain political and economic competition. The arrival of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative in the region has only heightened the strategic anxiety of the US, Australia and other powers. In 2012, and in response to several high-level diplomatic visits to Oceania, then president of Kiribati Anote Tong, remarked wryly, ‘It is nice to be relevant’ (Tong 2012). Given the wide range of Pacific initiatives proposed, his words were also prescient. Within the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), states in Oceania seek to not only diversify relations beyond former and current colonial powers, but also prioritise human security emergencies, such as the climate crisis.
ISSN: 2209-9557

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