Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to The Strategist, Pacific Islanders are so upset about the USA’s failure to address climate change, they are switching their allegiance to China.
Inaction on climate change will undermine US engagement with Pacific islands
25 Nov 2019|Evan Karlik
And this September, in a celebrated coup for Beijing, Solomon Islands and Kiribati each switched their diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China. Of Taipei’s remaining 15 international partners, four are Pacific island states.
Commentators see the opening moves of a global chess game between China and the US, speak of island countries falling like dominos, or even evoke the 19th-century scramble for influence in central Asia by calling this emerging dynamic the ‘Pacific Great Game’.
But an obsessive focus on diplomatic poaching or military balancing overlooks the primary concern of islanders.
In a scathing Sydney Morning Herald op-ed, Reverend James Bhagwan, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, made clear that in the Pacific’s fragile islands, ‘nothing worries us more than climate change’.
American diplomats should be thankful that similar acrimony hasn’t also been extended towards President Donald Trump—at least not yet.
Beijing, to its credit, recognises the value of environmental rhetoric. In coverage of a recent economic development summit in Samoa, the state-run Xinhua news agency touted China as ‘one of the first countries to sign the Paris Agreement’ and highlighted its pledge ‘to halt the rise in carbon dioxide emissions by around 2030’.
…Read more: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/inaction-on-climate-change-will-undermine-us-engagement-with-pacific-islands/
The Strategist acknowledges the disconnect between China’s public statements on climate change, and their headlong race towards coal powered supremacy.
But is their suggestion that climate concern is driving the shift in allegiances plausible? Are Pacific Islanders really so naive they can’t see through China’s transparent climate hypocrisy?