20 May 2013

Put aside suspicions over China in Pacific says think tank

3:43 pm on 20 May 2013

The author of a new report on China's role in the Pacific says established powers in the region like Australia and the United States need to put aside some of their suspicions and better co-operate with China.

Jenny Hayward-Jones of Australia's Lowy Institute says there is little evidence that China is doing anything more than supporting its commercial interests and pursuing South-South co-operation.

She says Chinese influence in the Pacific has grown mainly due to diverse commercial interests and its ability to seriously challenge established powers in the region is limited.

Ms Hayward-Jones warns it is counter-productive to view China's activities in the region in purely geo-strategic terms.

"If countries like Australia and the US concentrate too much on the defence and the diplomacy and the potential geo-strategic threat that China poses there's less ability to look at what can be done in the economic sphere to help Chinese investment have a better impact on the Pacific."

Jenny Hayward-Jones there is plenty of room for traditional aid donors to improve co-operation with China in the region and they need to build its trust.