22 Jul 2009

Report says China influence in Pacific overstated

3:11 pm on 22 July 2009

China's influence in the Pacific may be overstated according to the Australian-based think thank, the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

A paper for the Institute entitled, China: Stumbling Through the Pacific, has found China is on a par in aid donations with other major donors such as New Zealand, Japan and the European Union.

But the paper's author, Fergus Hanson says China falls far below the 600 million US dollars that Australia contributed in 2007.

He says there is no reason for Australia or New Zealand to see China as a threat.

"I think there has been a tendency to overstate China's influence and its ambitions in the region. At least in some areas the idea of China being a threat in the region is overstated. There's no obvious reason why China would want to take on the role of major donor or even the major security underwriter in the region given the enormous costs involved in that."

Fergus Hanson says China is a significant player in the Pacific but that's being undermined by its poorly-designed short-term aid policy.