Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I) Trade Commissioner to China, David Morris, addressed China’s National Center for Oceania Studies in Guangzhou in November last year, on the growing engagement between China and the Pacific region.
His speech was to mark the occasion of the publication of the fourth Blue Book on Oceania published by the National Center, based at Sun Yat-Sen University.
Mr Morris, a former Australian diplomat and founding Executive Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, accepted the honour of appointment to the Editorial Board for next year’s Blue Book on Oceania and discussed further research cooperation with the National Center for Oceania Studies on the important trends in economic cooperation between the Pacific region and China.
“There is a rebalancing under way toward Asia, where the greatest population lives,” Mr Morris said. “The Asian economies are integrated into the global economy and their rise will build the global economy.
“For the Pacific region, the part of the world where the smallest population lives, this rebalancing of global economic power to our north takes place at the same time as another great seismic shift.
“In recent times the overwhelming consensus of scientific evidence indicates that the Pacific Islands face an existential threat from climate change. No island is isolated from changes in the world.
“Notwithstanding the challenge of climate change, the good news for the whole region is that Asia’s economic rise brings opportunities to integrate into regional and global supply chains, financial flows and of course high spending tourists. Economic health is the bedrock, because economic strength creates the capacity to make choices, to act in our national, regional and global interest.”
Commenting on the importance of increasing trade, investment and tourism promotion as tools of economic development in the Pacific region Mr Morris said, “Trade between the Pacific Islands and China doubled last year, tourism grew rapidly from a low base and Chinese investors continued to actively explore the region for opportunities. This is consistent with a trend that is linking the economies of the Pacific Islands with China.
“Chinese companies are actively engaged in the energy and resources of Papua New Guinea, in the tourism resorts of Fiji and in the vast fisheries across the South Pacific.
Striking a balance will be the challenge, ensuring that development is sustainable and that the unique environment and cultures of the Pacific are strengthened from development and not diminished.
“It is true that many believe engagement is a zero-sum game and that just as economic, cultural and other engagement with China grows, so must engagement with traditional partners decline. I think the times are far too interesting and our shared interests far too important to be reduced to such simplistic thinking. One thing is sure, the new times require the nations of the Pacific to understand, pursue and defend their own national interests and for us to better pursue our regional agenda together.
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