Ketagalan Media: China’s Growing Grip on the South Pacific

China has invested significantly in the region, and Fanell suspect that China has been cultivating development deals for a long time. Fanell noted that a guard at a gold mine recently purchased by Chinese state owned company in the Solomon Islands was wearing a uniform with China’s national flag stitched onto the shoulder.

Fanell related his findings to a 2012 image found aboard a Chinese frigate. The image consists of a dragon’s head overlayed on a map of East Pacific, expanding in three directions – a clear indicator of Beijing’s expansionist ambition. Fanell had strong words for what he saw as a concerning image, which was used to motivate Chinese sailors.

“Even though they say they want win-win…they don’t want to displace America… [that] they don’t want to be a hegemon, they’re lying. That’s what they want to do in this area,” he said.

Though China has often used language such as “win-win” and “not seeking hegemony” on its official documents, speeches by Communist Party Chairman often include words that alludes to Chinese nationalism, such as the “Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.”

“It’s the Chinese Communist Party and their long view – their view to 2049 and becoming the global leader,” according to Fanell, that’s leading to these aggressive tendencies. Beijing has a stated goal of modernizing its military by 2020. It also intends to have a world-class military by 2049. 

China’s expansion into the region has a heavy strategic component. A report titled Beyond the Dark Side of the Moon published by Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR, 財團法人國防安全研究院) suggest that China also has interests in the airspace above these islands. China has displayed its capacity to build artificial islands in the South China Sea recently, and may potentially construct some in the South Pacific in the future.

China’s expanding space and satellite capability is also gathering attention. China operated a space tracking station in Kiribati before 2003. After the diplomatic switch, the station may be used for military purposes.

China’s developing capacity in space and ability to more accurately guide its missiles means that it can better deter potential US military ship from entering the region. This is highly concerning for Taiwan, since US support in case of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is highly uncertain and dependent on the ever-changing military power dynamic….

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China’s Growing Grip on the South Pacific