22 Jul 2009

China's support of Fiji's interim regime described as miscalculated

7:14 am on 22 July 2009

China's support of the interim regime in Fiji has been described as miscalculated by an international policy think tank, the Lowy Institute.

The claim comes in a paper produced for the Australian-based Institute by research fellow Fergus Hanson, entitled China: Stumbling through the Pacific.

Mr Hanson says China's decision to engage with the interim government after the 2006 coup failed to recognise that the coup leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, lacks support in the country and has failed to implement his reform agenda.

He says the history of coups in Fiji also suggests the interim Prime Minister is unlikely to remain as a long-term leader.

Mr Hanson says China's actions may have more to do with its relationship with Taiwan

"After the coup there was a bit of uncertainty whether Fiji might be casting around for donor support given its isolation from the west, there was a potential it might turn to Taiwan. We saw China then conclude a deal for 150 million US dollars in a soft loan. It followed this up in 2008 with another big loan of 83 million dollars."

Fergus Hanson says its a risky way for China to position itself in the region in the longterm.