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China wages charm offensive in Pacific in attempt to squeeze out U.S.



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The US faces a significant uphill battle to balance China’s rise in the Pacific. Granted, the Biden administration did host the inaugural US-Pacific Island Country Summit in late September, which culminated in a joint declaration of the fourteen Pacific island countries involved pledging greater cooperation in defense, trade and other areas with each other and the United States. However, the accord was signed by the Solomon Islands only after “indirect references to China” were taken out of the language.

The watered-down declaration comes after years of significant military gains made by China in the Pacific. In 2018, reports suggested that China was attempting to establish a military base in Vanuatu, in 2021, China was in talks with rehabilitating an old airstrip in Kiribati which could serve both civilian and military capabilities, and in 2020, the US became aware of China trying to set up a military base in Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. This April, China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands, which contains provisions that some analysts believe open the door to establishing a Chinese military base there.

Additionally, the United States lags behind China’s “soft power” in the Pacific. As the Biden administration admitted in the recent summit, the US has yet to establish embassies in the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Kiribati. Meanwhile, the CCP is waging a significant propaganda war against the United States over the Pacific. Outlets like China Daily and Global Times claim that China’s interests in the Pacific are benevolent, while the US is seeking to militarize the Pacific. The CCP press also claims that China is generously giving robust aid to the Pacific states, while the US is neglecting them.

Claim #1: China is acting out of benevolence

The CCP media claims that China is increasing its influence with the Pacific nations out of benevolence. China “has no regional ambition in the Pacific Islands region, and its engagement with the Pacific Island nations is mutually beneficial cooperation and friendly exchanges,” according to China Daily. “Over the past decade, equality and mutual respect have become important norms governing the relations between China and Pacific Island countries (PICs),” according to Global Times.  According to another Global Times article, “China has no intention to compete with anyone for influence or to engage in geographical competition [in the Pacific].”

Claim #2: The US seeks to militarize the Pacific

The CCP media downplays China’s actions in Vanuatu, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, Cambodia, and near Taiwan, and states that it is the United States that is militarizing the Pacific. Ironically, it is the United States that views the countries in the South Pacific as “merely handy chess pieces, to be instrumentalized and even weaponized to serve its regional and global hegemonic strategy,” in the words of Global Times. Continuing the chess analogy, another Global Times article, quoting Chinese ambassador to Kiribati Tang Songgen, states that the US and the West “[…]regard the island countries as pawns in geopolitical games, and push the island countries into a geopolitical battlefield.” The West is “turning the South Pacific into a venue for geopolitical competition and confrontation,” according to China Daily.

For further evidence that the US seeks to militarize the South Pacific, one Global Times article points to the US discussing building Australia’s first nuclear-powered submarines, while another Global Times article points to US military exercises on Fiji. The latter article calls Western reports that that China wants to establish military bases on the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as “groundlessly spread rumors.”

Claim #3: China gives robust and appropriate aid to the Pacific states

Chinese media also portray China as delivering concrete aid to the Pacific. According to China Daily, Chinese investment has assisted the Pacific Island nations “improve connectivity, reduce poverty, safeguard public health, and protect the environment.” To the Solomon Islands, China has given “some SBD5” [nearly $600 million] “in grants targeting infrastructure facilities, education in terms of scholarships and the development of a new hospital aimed at improving services at the Solomon Islands National Referral Hospital in Honiara,” whereas the $25 million that the US has promised Malaita Province in grants for forestry, fisheries and agriculture has yet to be paid, according to Global Times.

Claim #4: The US is neglecting the Pacific

CCP media also portrays the US as “neglecting” the Pacific. Global Times characterized US relations with the Pacific nations post-World War II as “eight decades of neglect.” According to a journalist from the Solomon Islands, as quoted by the same article in Global Times:

“You have got to show up. And the United States has not…For decades, we identified with the West, a legacy forged when the United States, Australia and their allies halted Japan’s imperial advance during World War II in the Battle of Guadalcanal. But that was long ago. There is a creeping sense today that we are being ignored, if not forgotten. So, who can blame us if we open the door to new friends who can help with our needs? And those needs are great.”

Another Global Times article characterized the US viewing the South Pacific as “a neglected, out-of-the-way corner of the world” where the US and its allies detonated nuclear devices, thereby bringing “radiation poisoning, birth defects, leukaemia [sic.], thyroid and other cancers” to the population. This was followed by a period of the US viewing the South Pacific after the Cold War as “having lower or little strategic value. Embassies were shut down, aid programs pulled out and financial support drastically reduced,” according to the article.


CCP media is on full throttle against the US regarding the Pacific Island nations. China is waging a sophisticated propaganda war in the region, and is trying to establish a military foothold in several of these countries. The US has yet to devise a credible check on the rise of Chinese influence in the region.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic 

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China Expands Charm Offensive in Southeast Asia to Squeeze out U.S.



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Similar to what is happening in the Pacific, the US is facing a significant uphill battle to balance China’s rise in Southeast Asia. During the recent G20 and ASEAN summits in Indonesia and Cambodia, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) media upped its propaganda war against the United States over Southeast Asia. Outlets like Global Times and Xinhua claim that China’s interests in Southeast Asia are focused on mutual benefits, while the US is a malicious force in the region. The CCP press also claims that China is generously giving robust and purposeful aid to the Southeast Asian countries, while the US is neglecting them.

Claim #1: China’s Interest in Southeast Asia is Peaceful and Mutually Beneficial

China’s approach to Southeast Asia is benevolent and focused on mutual benefits, according to the CCP-run press. “China’s goal is to achieve a truly prosperous and peaceful ASEAN,” and “doesn’t interfere in ASEAN members’ internal affairs,” according to Global Times. “China focuses on pragmatic issues, such as promoting infrastructure construction, living standards, which are needed in those countries,” and “China is seeking a cooperative path toward common development,” according to another Global Times article. That same article quoted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as stating that China and the ASEAN countries “are good neighbors who will always be there for each other…”

One country that is particularly thankful for growing Chinese influence, according to the CCP press, is Indonesia. Indonesians want China to “lead…the world to a more peaceful and prosperous future,” and view Chinese President Xi Jinping “with an apparent sense of affability and affection,” according to Global Times. Marzuki Alie, former speaker of the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia, praised China as “becom[ing] essential in improving global governance,” and that “the visionary concept of building a human community with a shared future proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping shows China is willing to work with other countries to create a peaceful and secure world with openness and inclusiveness,” according to Xinhua. And perhaps the most perplexing aspect of China’s “benevolence” in Indonesia is the “Peace Ark” – a hospital ship that has recently docked in Indonesia, but that is also a navy ship run by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), according to Global Times.

Malaysia has a favorable view of China as well, according to the CCP press. Koh King Kee, president of Center for New Inclusive Asia, a Malaysian think tank, stated that “China is the backbone of the global supply chain and acts as a ballast stone of the global economy in times of uncertainty,” according to Xinhua.

And in response to US concerns over rising Chinese influence in Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian dismisses the base as not targeting any third party, according to Global Times. Cambodia’s Minister of National Defense Tea Banh further claimed that the Chinese involvement in that base is benevolent, stating that the base helps Cambodia “in cooperating with friendly countries and help[ing to] maintain regional peace, stability and prosperity,” according to that same article.

Claim #2: The US’ Interest in Southeast Asia is Manipulative, Malevolent

In contrast to China’s benevolence, the United States “only wants [ASEAN] to serve as its pawn to counter China, and to fulfill its own hegemony goal, according to Global Times. At the G20 conference in Bali, the US takes a “hegemonic, unilateral and protectionist approach,” and “is preaching war and confrontation,” according to that same article.

The US and the West are merely using the G20 summit in Bali “to advance their own geopolitical agenda against Russia, therefore preventing the crucial meeting from tackling serious economic issues,” according to another Global Times article. “Such a geopolitical focus “will worsen this uncertain and unstable world,” according to Veronika S. Saraswati, China Study Unit Convener at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Indonesia.

According to another Global Times article, the US is using ASEAN “to drive a wedge between China and Southeast Asian nations in the future,” is attempting to “rope in the region via political, security, and value-oriented agendas,” and is trying “to buy off” Southeast Asian countries “by pledging to spend certain amount[s] of money.”

Claim #3: China gives Robust, Targeted Aid to Southeast Asia

CCP media taunts the extensive aid that China is giving to Southeast Asian countries. China has pledged $1.5 billion in “development assistance” to ASEAN countries in November 2021, and Chinese-ASEAN trade was about $878 billion in 2021, according to Global Times. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang claims that of the 160 “cooperation initiatives” that China has suggested with the ASEAN countries in the previous 10 years, over 99.5 percent of them have been implemented, as reported by another Global Times article.

Li also stated that China is planning to build emergency storage for medical supplies and rise within the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and South Korea) framework, according to Global Times.

Chinese state-run media is particularly touting China’s Belt and Road investments in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Laos. According to Global Times, the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway will be operational in June 2023, and as a “flagship project of China-Indonesia cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative,” will be the first high speed train in Southeast Asia, according to Xinhua. China’s ambassador to Indonesia praised the project, claiming that the railway “will greatly reduce traffic jams, make travel more convenient for local people, improve local investment environment, boost businesses and tourism along the route, and accelerate the building of a high speed railway economic corridor.” The ambassador also mentioned that existing Belt and Road initiatives with Indonesia like the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park and the PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry Park, “have generated tax incomes, job opportunities and foreign exchange earnings, and provided Indonesia with opportunities for greater participation in global industrial chains of stainless steel and new energy.”

Meanwhile, Global Times asserts that the China-Laos Railway has generated at least $1.7 billion in trade and has transported almost 10 million tons of goods.

Claim #4: US Investment Lags Behind China

On the other hand, the CCP media claims that the US is lagging far behind Chinese investments in Southeast Asia. President Biden’s newly announced “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” with the ASEAN countries “…looks more like a symbolic act. The US is playing the catch-up game with China,” according to Koh King Kee, president of a Malaysian think tank, according to Global Times.

US and ASEAN trade, at $441 million in 2021, was almost half that of Chinese investment for that same time, according to Global Times. President Biden pledged to ask Congress for $850 million in aid for electric vehicles and clean energy to ASEAN countries, but this amount is “symbolic” and a “mere ‘drop in the bucket’,” according to Global Times. In May, Biden “announced a $150 million development and security package” for the ASEAN countries according to that same article, which pales in comparison to the amounts in aid that China claims it is giving those same countries.

According to Global Times, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang mentioned that US investment in ASEAN is “a drop in the bucket if compared to US support for Ukraine” during the Biden administration, which Global Times claims is “over $18.9 billion in security assistance.”


CCP media is waging a charm offensive targeting Southeast Asia. While China is investing heavily in these countries, the US has yet to devise a credible counter to such influence.

You can follow Steve Postal on @HebraicMosaic 

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