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The red wave is coming to Arizona in 2022. Starting at 6 am on Sunday, thousands of Trump supporters lined their cars outside the event, hoping to be one of the first people inside the Trump Rally.

Australia can’t muddle through Trump 2.0 – we need to plan now

by Richard Maude

한국어로 읽기Leer en españolIn Deutsch lesen Gap اقرأ بالعربيةLire en françaisЧитать на русском If it comes to pass, a second Donald Trump presidency will once again strain the bonds that have kept Australia and the United States close through so many decades. The self-interested nationalism of “America First” sits in fundamental opposition to the ideas that animate Australian foreign policy. We will have significant policy differences. Trump’s autocratic instincts, laid bare in attempts to steal the 2020 election, make talk of shared values a stretch. A Trump victory is far from assured. Still, the government needs a plan for one, and well before election day. Australia’s instinct will be to “manage through” pragmatically – to pick fights carefully, to be tough in private when needed while disagreeing politely in public, to build support for Australia in the administration, Congress and big business, and to work around Trump wherever possible. This was the model for Trump’s first presidency. There is nothing illegitimate in it, recognising as it does the enduring national interests that Australia has in its relationship with the United States – interests that are too important for governments to ignore, whatever they might think privately of Mr Trump. The alliance, on which Australia has staked so much as China’s power grows, is deeply institutionalised and will outlast Trump 2.0. The government is doing as much as it can to lock down AUKUS arrangements before the election. There is every chance economic ties will escape Trump’s obsession with “unfair” trade – Australia’s economy is open and the US enjoys a healthy trade surplus. Australia will hope that the institutions of the American state will temper excess: the US Constitution limits the ability of any one branch of government – legislative, executive, or judicial – from gaining too much power. Republicans in Congress, for example, won’t challenge Trump publicly, but nor will they give him free rein. And what shapes America happens in its states as much as in Washington. Tempering will happen in other ways. Trump doesn’t usually pay much attention to the interests of close partners, but others in a Trump administration will. The US needs dependable partners – that gives Australia access and at least some influence. Then there’s the noise-to-signal ratio: not everything Trump says will result in action. In short, Australia will be able to get things done, even if it is a wild ride. There is a good argument for protecting the alliance but not for normalising what Trump represents. Still, one doesn’t have to catastrophise about Trump to be alarmed at what might be in prospect. Constrained or not, the radical intent of Trump to remake America and its place in the world is clear. We have been here before, of course, but the stakes are higher, the context different, and the Trump movement better prepared. Today, China’s challenge is sharper and its global dimensions clearer. China’s military modernisation is quickening. The noose is tightening around Taiwan. The bloody, grinding conflict in Ukraine is a daily test of US resolve to stand against totalitarianism in Europe. Democracy and liberalism continue their world-wide retreat. Meanwhile, last year was the hottest on record globally. Unpredictable, inconsistent US leadership won’t support Australian national interests at such a critical moment. The rupture of transatlantic relations; a weaker NATO; the abandonment of Ukraine; emboldened leaders in China and Russia; disengagement from climate change processes; deeper global economic fragmentation; neglect of South-East Asia – if Trump were to win, not all of these outcomes are certain, but all are plausible. “Managing through” a second Trump term will therefore be necessary but not sufficient. For example, the government would need to consider a like-minded “coalitions of resistance” to shape or push back on some US decision-making – that will require loads of diplomatic finesse. Japan and South Korea would be key partners, and Europe more central to Australian thinking than it is today. Australia could choose to deepen the nation’s already evident hedge in Asia against both US inconsistency and Chinese aggression, diverting even more resources and political attention to its major Asian relationships. It may be necessary to spend more on defence and accelerate efforts to develop some sovereign military capabilities. Plurilateral co-operation without the United States, in groups small and large, could become more necessary. We would likely need to do more patching of the international system where our interests are strongly engaged, as the Morrison government did in supporting an interim appeal arbitration arrangement for trade disputes. Australia will need to think hard about how to influence a Trump administration on China. US and Australian approaches to China currently combine deterrence with reassurance through diplomacy. Under Mr Trump, misalignment could occur quickly. Trump has also flagged swingeing new tariffs on Chinese imports and greater self-reliance in “essential goods”. A new trade war and the ever-advancing boundaries of “de-risking” will pose complex policy challenges. Australia’s closest friends in America remind us that US democracy is often untidy and that for all its flaws, America is, well, the only America we have. This is a good argument for protecting the alliance but not for normalising what Trump represents. If Trump wins, that distinction will be as good a guide as any to policy-making in the national interest. This article originally appeared in Australian Financial Review.

The Chinese flag and the flag of the Solomon Islands

Will Solomon Islands’ new leader stay close to China?

by Priestley Habru , Claudina Habru

한국어로 읽기 Leer en español In Deutsch lesen Gap اقرأ بالعربية Lire en français Читать на русском Former foreign minister Jeremiah Manele has been elected the next prime minister of Solomon Islands, defeating the opposition leader, Matthew Wale, in a vote in parliament. The result is a mixed bag for former prime minister Manasseh Sogavare’s Ownership, Unity and Responsibility (OUR) Party. The party won just 15 of 50 seats in last month’s election. But even though Sogavare declined to stand for PM this week, his party still had the upper hand in the vote after courting independent MPs. So, what kind of leader will Manele be? Will he bring big changes to the country or its relationships with China, Australia and the United States? Quality-of-life issues remain paramount One of the authors here (Claudina) voted in Solomon Islands’ general election in November 2014. At that time, political campaigns were low-key and largely localised to particular areas in the country. Ten years on, we have noticed a huge change in the way campaigns are staged. This year, the livestreaming of campaign events was ubiquitous on social media, which amplified and sensationalised the messages of candidates like never before. Frenzied parades involving floats and legions of supporters were common. Despite all the fanfare leading up to polling day, the primary concern of ordinary Solomon Islanders was not political wrangling, but the dire state of services in the country. The healthcare system is dilapidated, road conditions and infrastructure are poor and power cuts are constant. The increased cost of living and lack of educational and job opportunities have only made daily life more difficult for residents. For example, one voter in Isabel Province told us as part of our research that he did not care what political party his preferred candidate aligned himself with. His main concern was for his MP to continue to provide financial support through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The fund pays for iron roofing for homes, school fees, outboard motor engines for transport, chainsaws and other material needs. Many voters similarly wanted their MPs to join the majority coalition so they would be able to access more benefits through the government. This was why nine of the independent MPs who unseated incumbents from the governing coalition came back to join that same coalition going into the PM’s election this week. Manele got 31 votes from lawmakers, which included 15 from his OUR Party, three from Solomon Islands People First Party, one from the Kadere Party, nine independents and three other MPs who switched allegiances from Wale’s camp. It was a smart move for Sogavare and his coalition to select Manele as their candidate. Sogavare’s popularity has waxed and waned over the past two decades. He was forced to vacate the PM post after no-confidence votes in both 2007 and 2017. He survived another no-confidence vote in 2021, which led to violent protests on the streets of Honiara and the destruction of Chinatown. Though Sogavare managed to hold onto his seat in last month’s election, he won by just 259 votes. It was his narrowest margin of victory since he was first elected to parliament in 1997. To avoid a similar backlash from voters who did not want to see Sogavare become PM again, the sensible thing for his coalition was to select another candidate. The 55-year-old Manele is from the same village (Samasodu) in Isabel Province as the governor-general, Sir David Vunagi, which means the two men in the highest offices in the country are closely related. Manele will likely be an inclusive leader. He has a friendly and humble personality, as reflected in his maiden speech in which he acknowledged his rival, Wale, and members of his coalition. A more matter-of-fact foreign policy One of the main reasons Sogavare courted controversy was his increasingly cosy relationship with Beijing since his government switched Solomon Islands’ diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China in 2019. He signed a secretive bilateral security deal with China in 2022 that raised alarm bells in Australia. Last year came another deal to boost co-operation with China on law enforcement and other security matters. With Manele now at the helm, the country should return to a more business-as-usual approach to diplomatic ties with China. His experience as a career diplomat, public servant, opposition leader and foreign minister will help him navigate the country’s complex relationships without the fiery rhetoric his predecessor had become known for. In addition, we may finally be able to see what the 2022 security agreement entails now that a former foreign minister is in charge. Asked by the ABC whether his government would keep the deal, Manele said “yes”, then added: If there is a need to review that, it will be a matter for China and Solomon Islands to discuss. However, he may face some pressure from the opposition. Peter Kenilorea junior, the political wing leader of the Solomon Islands United Party (SIUP), has publicly expressed a desire to scrap the security agreement with China. Manele should also maintain a cordial and perhaps more engaged relationship with Australia. When announcing his PM candidacy this week, he reiterated he would continue the long-held Solomon Islands foreign policy stance of “friends to all and enemies to none”. What matters most to Solomon Islanders The broader region must continue to see the plight of ordinary Solomon Islanders as separate from the decisions of its leaders, who at times may not necessarily reflect the wishes of the people. Ask any Solomon Islander in a rural area what he or she thinks of the security agreement with China and the implications for traditional partners like the US, Australia and New Zealand. Chances are he or she might just shrug it off without uttering a response. This is because Solomon Islanders have other pressing issues to worry about, such as how to pay school fees, how to feed their families, how to get their kids to school when the river floods and how to get fuel to take an expecting mother to the nearest health centre. This is what matters most to people’s lives, not diplomatic tussles between global powers.

Penny Wong and Kausea Natano

More than just a climate deal: The Australia-Tuvalu Falepili Union treaty and the EU’s potential contribution to the Pacific

by Manisha Reuter , Frédéric Grare

The Falepili Union treaty prioritises Tuvalu’s urgent concerns about climate change. As the EU looks to deepen relations with partners in the Indo-Pacific, it should tailor its offers to regional priorities  In early November, on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands, Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese and Kausea Natano, his counterpart from Tuvalu, a Polynesian archipelago, announced that they would elevate their bilateral relationship to a more integrated partnership known as the Falepili Union. Under the Falepili Union treaty, Australia commits to Tuvalu’s safety – including through a special visa arrangement for Tuvalu citizens to migrate to Australia, as well as by uplifting its development assistance and support for Tuvalu’s climate adaptation efforts. In return, Tuvalu will mutually agree with Australia any security and defence partnerships it concludes with other states. Both countries also commit to protecting and promoting each other’s collective security and sovereignty. For Australia, the partnership is a way to help pull Tuvalu away from China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific. Security and defence partnerships include those on policing, border protection, cyber security, and critical infrastructure (such as ports, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure). Natano has downplayed the importance of Tuvalu’s obligation to consult Australia on its partnerships, saying that the treaty only requires his country to approach Australia first on military issues, but the clause gives Australia veto power over any security arrangement Tuvalu may be tempted to conclude with other nations. Despite the distance, the Falepili Union treaty did not go unnoticed in Europe. European officials have focused on the significance of the agreement in the context of the climate crisis, arguing that it highlights the need for all countries to drastically reduce carbon emissions. In the media, the treaty has sometimes been referred to as a strategic victory by Australia over China, though little if any attention has been paid to the actual security provisions. But the partnership holds important lessons about how to engage with potential partners in the Indo-Pacific. As an archipelago of nine low lying islands with their highest point just 4.5 metres above sea level, for Tuvalu – much like other South Pacific countries – climate change, not China, constitutes an existential threat. The Falepili Union illustrates the fundamental gap between the threat perceptions of big countries in the Indo-Pacific such as Australia, whose concerns are primarily strategic, and those of smaller and more vulnerable ones such as most South Pacific islands. These countries operate at a sub-strategic level, with their location their only real strategic asset, but one which larger countries cannot ignore. The Falepili Union treaty responds to Tuvalu’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change. It is not the first programme facilitating mobility in the Pacific. New Zealand’s “Pacific Access” visa category and Samoa quota resident visa enable 2,400 people to move from the Pacific to New Zealand on a permanent basis every year. The United States offers similar possibilities to eligible citizens of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau to live and work in the US indefinitely. However, the Falepili Union treaty is the first agreement to link mobility explicitly to climate change, allowing migration in anticipation of climate-related disasters. It is also meant to help Australia deepen its ties with other Pacific countries by easing the critique that it should be embracing stronger climate action. The response by Pacific nations has so far been positive. Unsurprisingly, the US, New Zealand, and even Taiwan, have expressed their support for the initiative. But the Falepili Union has also been publicly backed by the prime minister of the Cook Islands, Mark Brown, and, more surprisingly perhaps, by the foreign minister of the Solomon Islands, Jeremiah Manele, whose country signed a controversial security partnership with China in 2022. There have also been speculations in diplomatic circles that Kiribati and Nauru might sign similar agreements with Australia in the future, with Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong declaring that the Falepili Union “does signal how we are prepared to approach our membership of the Pacific family”. Taneti Maamau, Kiribati’s president, though, has so far been noncommittal about the possibility of concluding a similar treaty, saying that Kiribati has its “own strategies and [its] own initiatives”. No Pacific island wants to be drawn into a great power rivalry involving China, nor be coerced in any way by Beijing’s opponents. The treaty illustrates that the struggle with China for influence in the Indo-Pacific is not just about military power, but also about the capacity to assuage the anxieties of the Pacific states regarding their own survival and future. The Falepili Union should thus inspire Europeans to tailor their partnerships according to the needs and interests of countries in the region and provide them with attractive offers for cooperation. As Europe looks for ways to deepen partnerships in the region, it will find that many of the smaller island states’ own priorities overlap with Europe’s aims. It would thus make strategic sense for the European Union to prioritise climate adaptation projects, which also have the benefit of enabling knowledge transfers to and from Europe. It can use the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and the EU-Pacific Green-Blue Alliance, funded through the Global Gateway to achieve these objectives. In addition to support designed to address the effects of climate change on island nations, the EU can also contribute to capacity building for monitoring, policing, and enforcement. Island nations in the South Pacific have limited capacities in these fields, which are crucial for guaranteeing their maritime security. The EU’s decision to extend CRIMARIO, an EU-funded initiative to help partners better govern their maritime spaces by enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness through information sharing initiatives, capacity building, and training is one example of what the EU can propose. Technical and financial capacities would offer South Pacific island states additional options to choose their partners and alleviate the pressure resulting from being caught in great power rivalry. Such an approach would also allow the EU to promote the “inclusive and effective multilateral partnerships” that are at the heart of its Indo-Pacific strategy. None of these steps bring absolute guarantees against an increased and potentially hostile Chinese presence in the region, but they nevertheless help reduce the strategic and political space in which Beijing can operate. The views and opinions expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not represent the perspectives or stance of World and New World Journal, nor do they reflect the opinions of any of our employees. World and New World Journal does not endorse or take responsibility for the content, opinions, or information presented in this article. Readers are encouraged to consider multiple sources and viewpoints for a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Thank you for your understanding.

Flag of New Zealand, 2023 Elections

The 2023 Election in New Zealand and its Foreign Policy Implications

by Robert Patman

Foreign policy has yet to feature significantly in New Zealand’s elections despite its obvious implications for national security and development. Internationally, observers are looking for what the elections will mean for policy towards AUKUS, the Ukraine War, and, crucially, climate change. The world is at an inflection point in history. Putin’s Russia is attempting to annex Ukraine, the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict has exploded again, China’s security pact with the Solomon Islands highlights a growing Pacific presence, and the tempo of climate change seems to be overwhelming efforts to counter the single biggest threat to life on earth. However, these issues have yet to feature prominently in the New Zealand general election scheduled for 14 October. The political campaigns of the two major parties, Labour and National, and those of the minor parties, the Greens, ACT and New Zealand First have largely focused on what they see as domestic concerns – inflation and the cost of living, crime, tax cuts, public services, and co-governance. To some degree, this reflects the fact the Labour and National leaderships have adopted a largely bipartisan approach to foreign policy Chris Hipkins and Chris Luxon say they support an independent, principled New Zealand foreign policy that is committed to advancing an international rules-based order that is enshrined in institutions such as the United Nations and norms such as multilateralism. Both leaders view Australia as New Zealand’s closest and most important ally, and declare their backing for international human rights, the expansion of free trade, the maintenance of a non-nuclear security policy, and a strong focus on the Indo-Pacific, especially the Pacific Island states region. In the area of defence, there is slightly more daylight between the major parties. Both Hipkins and Luxon recognise that a declining international security environment requires greater New Zealand defence spending. But Labour claims its defence spending commitment is more credible than that of National. For one thing, Labour’s NZD$4.7 billion capital investment in the defence sector during its six years in government is double what National did in nine years at the helm. At the same time, Labour has pledged to improve retention in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) by tasking the Remuneration Authority to independently set pay rates and allowances for uniformed defence personnel. Furthermore, many New Zealand politicians and media commentators readily assume “bread and butter” domestic issues are simply more important to New Zealand voters than questions of foreign policy. It is almost as if domestic issues in New Zealand are somehow divorced from developments in the international arena, but that is a shaky assumption in an increasingly interconnected world. Whoever forms the next government of New Zealand will have to deal with at least three major “intermestic” issues that blur the boundaries between domestic and international policy, and to date have not received the attention they deserve in the 2023 election. First, the Putin regime’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has had significant economic and diplomatic consequences for the Indo-Pacific region and also for New Zealand. In the Indo-Pacific, Russia’s assault on Ukraine led to soaring prices for food and energy and a regional awareness that heavyweights like China and India remain important partners of Moscow. In New Zealand, the continuing volatility in international commodity markets has led to increased prices for imported goods and growing pressure on domestic inflation and business margins. Meanwhile, Russia’s Ukraine invasion – which flagrantly violates UN principles of state sovereignty and territorial integrity – confronts New Zealand with the greatest threat to the international rules-based order on which it critically depends. To date, New Zealand has contributed more than $70 million in humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, but that amount pales in comparison with the scale of the aid provided by Australia and Canada to Kiev. This raises a key question for Kiwi voters. Is New Zealand providing sufficient military aid to Ukraine to safeguard a core national interest in helping to ensure Vladimir Putin’s land grab fails? Second, New Zealand faces a potentially momentous decision in relation to whether it should join the second pillar of AUKUS – the tripartite security partnership established by the US, UK, and Australia in September 2021 – to share information in state-of-the-art defence technologies to deter or counter China’s assertiveness. In March 2023, the Biden administration had indicated that the door was open for New Zealand to join the second pillar of this Anglosphere security partnership. New Zealand’s non-nuclear stance meant the country was not invited to participate in the first pillar of AUKUS, an initiative whereby the US and UK are committed to supporting Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines over the next three decades at a cost of somewhere between AUD$268 billion and AUD$368 billion. The case for New Zealand’s membership of the second pillar rests on the conviction that Wellington needs to more closely align itself with like-minded democratic partners at a time of intensifying US-China rivalry and growing assertiveness by an authoritarian regime in Beijing in Indo-Pacific and beyond. However, partial membership of AUKUS does not sit comfortably with an evolving New Zealand identity based on non-nuclear security, closer ties with the Pacific, and a worldview seeking to strengthen, not merely uphold, an international rules-based order (through measures like UN Security Council reform) to enhance global security. To date, neither the Labour or the National leadership seem willing to adopt a clear position towards AUKUS before the October election. Third, New Zealand’s response to climate change has struggled to get much traction as an election issue. Like many countries, New Zealand has experienced cyclones, floods, wildfires, and other extreme climate-related events with increasing frequency in recent years. As a signatory to the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, New Zealand has pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions by 50 percent in 2030 but remains, according to the IMF, significantly off track to meet this target. This slippage, in turn, places a big question mark over whether New Zealand can reach a target – supported by all political parties except the ACT party – to achieve net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. As a major exporter of agricultural products, New Zealand clearly has a big economic stake in reversing the national and global impact of climate change. However, with the exceptions of the Green Party and Te Pāti Māori, New Zealand’s political parties, including Labour and National, generally seem to be putting short-term economic concerns above future climate needs. On balance, while political leaders and the media may have shown little interest in foreign policy during the 2023 election, the rise of “intermestic” issues that straddle aspects of both domestic and international affairs is likely to have a significant impact on the lives of New Zealanders regardless of how they vote.

Rock Islands on the Pacific Ocean

China is playing the long game in the Pacific. Here’s why its efforts are beginning to pay off

by Graeme Smith

A week-long trip to Beijing by the Pacific’s most flamboyant statesman Manasseh Sogavare, was always going to cause concern in Canberra. The substance of the visit was as expected. The relationship between China and the Solomon Islands was upgraded to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” (on par with Papua New Guinea, the first Pacific nation to sign up to the Belt and Road Initiative). Nine agreements were also signed covering everything from civil aviation and infrastructure to fisheries and tourism. The Chinese premier, Li Qiang, who inked the deals with Sogavare, made a point of not mentioning the controversial policing cooperation agreement, the draft of which was leaked more than a year ago to New Zealand academic Anna Powles. Despite repeated calls from Australia and New Zealand to release the text of the policing agreement, there is no indication the Chinese or the Solomon Islands leadership will do so. There were also moments of theatre in Sogavare’s trip. The prime minister declared “I’m back home” when he arrived in Beijing in a clip posted by China Global Television Network. He then said in a longer interview on the same network that his nation had been “on the wrong side of history” for the 36 years it recognised Taiwan instead of the People’s Republic of China, and lauded President Xi Jinping as a “great man”. Sogavare saved his biggest serve for his return to the Solomon Islands, though. He accused Australia and New Zealand of withdrawing crucial budget support and hinted he would look to China to fulfil his ambitions to establish an armed forces, should Australia be unwilling to help.China’s slow start in the PacificSome key questions have been overlooked this week in the pantomime about what Australia should or shouldn’t do to shore up its relationship with an important Pacific partner. (We could start by accepting that Sogavare will never love us, and avoid getting into an arms race in the Solomon Islands with China.) What’s been somewhat lost, though, is how China has made inroads so quickly in a region that it still officially classifies as “peripheral”. China has certainly had to work harder to gain a foothold in the region. Relative to other regions, it has a lack of historical state ties with the Pacific. In Africa and Southeast Asia, China can draw on memories of shared anti-colonial struggles and aid projects like the Tanzam railway. In the Pacific, the Chinese Communist Party is a latecomer. Also holding it back is the remoteness and small population of the region. This has not made the Pacific a good fit for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has flourished in countries with rapid transport and communication links, substantial Chinese diasporas and leaders who are easily reached. Most of China’s own Pacific experts were baffled when the region was belatedly included in the project. Yet despite these obstacles, it’s clear the Chinese state’s approach in the Pacific has shifted, most remarkably in its diplomacy and the role state-linked companies are expected to play. Diplomats with serious intent China’s wolf warrior diplomacy has received plenty of attention, but the picture in the Pacific is less straightforward. The recently appointed special envoy to the Pacific, Qian Bo, undoubtedly styles himself as a wolf warrior. Under his tenure as Fijian ambassador, a Taiwanese representative was assaulted by Chinese diplomats for the crime of displaying a Taiwanese flag cake. Yet, other appointments suggest China is appointing higher-calibre diplomats to the region. These include Li Ming, the current ambassador to the Solomon Islands, and Xue Bing, the former ambassador to Papua New Guinea who now holds the challenging post of special envoy to the Horn of Africa. With experience in the region and good language skills, these diplomats have been more able to engage with Pacific communities than their predecessors, who largely focused on sending good news back to Beijing. More serious representatives suggest more serious intent.Chinese companies exerting influence, tooChina’s state-linked companies remain the driving force behind China’s engagement with the Pacific. Unlike the embassies, they are well-resourced and have skin in the game. Many company men (in construction, where Chinese companies dominate, they’re mostly men) are based in the region for decades, developing a deep understanding of how to win projects and influence political elites. Failed projects generate plenty of headlines, but many companies – such as COVEC PNG and China Railway First Group – are effective operators. They are building infrastructure cheaply in the Pacific and winning the favour of multilateral donors, particularly the Asian Development Bank. For larger state-linked companies, like China Harbor Engineering Company and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the geopolitical game has shifted. In the past, they could rely on their standing within the Chinese political system (their parent companies often outrank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to resist pressure to act on behalf of state. Now, they are expected to carry geopolitical water for Beijing. Often this can benefit the companies. For instance, when CCECC lobbied the Solomon Islands leadership to switch their allegiance from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China, it helped the company when it came to bidding for projects for the Pacific Games in Honiara. The leaders of these companies realise it can harm their image when they are seen as Beijing’s pawns. Yet, the companies, diplomats and Pacific leaders who choose Beijing’s embrace know times have changed. China is now a serious player in the region with a development philosophy to sell. It’s no longer enough to read Beijing’s talking points. You have to look like you mean it.