Friday, August 13, 2010

Fiji Seeks Closer Ties With China, Cooler Relations With US, Others

Phil Mercer | Sydney
12 August 2010

Fiji's leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, plans to curtail traditional ties with Australia, New Zealand and the United States in favor of a closer relationship with China. The army chief, who seized power in 2006, has ignored calls by international critics to restore democracy.

Fiji's self-appointed prime minister says the Chinese understand the reforms he is trying to implement better than Australia and New Zealand do.

While visiting China this week, Commodore Frank Bainimarama said he is prepared to abandon his country's traditional political ties in the region in favor of China. He stressed, however, that Fiji will continue to trade with New Zealand and Australia.

The army seized power in Fiji a bloodless coup in Fiji three-and-a-half years ago. The commodore says he is working to cleanse his country of corruption and racism. Canberra and Wellington have, however, been vocal critics of his rule.

In China, the Fijian leader says he is among friends and will direct diplomatic efforts toward Beijing in the hope of more donations and trade opportunities.

Professor John Warhurst from the Australian National University in Canberra says China's efforts to be more influential in the South Pacific will unsettle Australia.

"What has happened in Fiji over the last 10 or 15 years now with the number of coups probably leads Australian policy-makers and the general community to throw their hands up and say 'look, this is beyond our doing anything about it'. The question of a superpower like China injecting itself into the Pacific I think would have long-term worries for Australia," Warhurst said.

Warhurst thinks China could undermine a region that is already destabilized, while a greater role for Beijing in the South Pacific might overshadow Australia's role as the biggest power in the neighborhood.

The Bainimarama government in Fiji is short of friends overseas. Its disagreements with Australia and New Zealand have occasionally boiled over with diplomatic expulsions, with the commodore accusing his more powerful South Pacific neighbors of interfering in his nation's affairs. Opponents of the military government say Commodore Bainimarama is increasingly behaving like a dictator.

The press has been muzzled, opponents jailed and the constitution scrapped, while the judiciary has been dismissed and plans to hold elections repeatedly delayed.

As a result, it has been suspended from the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum, the region's main diplomatic bloc, and the Commonwealth grouping of former British colonies. Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the European Union have imposed some sanctions on the Fijian government.

The Fijian archipelago lies about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, and is home to about one million people. Most are indigenous Fijians, while just over a third are ethnic Indians, descendants of laborers the British brought to work on colonial sugar plantations

Comments posted on

  • Idiot Bainimaram he is inventing a new wheel of relationship with China. Must know your History Idiot Bainimarama. There already experiences between FIJI and China, What made you think your approach would be betterb than existing facts about China and Fiji.
    Chinese people were enfranchised for the first time in 1964. The former European roll was redefined to include other minority groups and renamed the General Electors roll. Despite being only a splinter of the electorate, General Electors were then allocated 10 of the 36 seats in the Legislative Council, as the legislature was then known, though this figure has gradually been reduced since independence in 1970.

    Around a thousand Chinese settled in Fiji in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and in February 1995, the Fijian Cabinet approved a plan to allow up to 7000 Hong Kong Chinese to immigrate to Fiji. Conditions included payment of F$30,000 to the government, and investment of F$100,000 in government-approved projects. Many of these invested in restaurants, retailing, and market gardening (mostly in Kalabu, Tamavua, Delaivalelevu, Vikoba, Sawani and Waibau), and have intensified horticulture around Suva. A further wave of Chinese has arrived since the late 1990s, many of them from the northern part of China. Many of the more recent immigrants have opened bakeries and other food outlets in Fijian villages, creating employment for local people.
  • Bainimarama has sold this once great country into the slavery of China .He should understand one thing that alligning with China is a one way valve ,and there is no going back.Setting his eyes on his future instead of the countrys.

    Its time he stood down and make way for someone who at least is interested in the welfare of the country and its people.One day the coward and his minority will wake up to the fact that we are a force for good for Fiji and the Pacific..Civil disobedience is the only answer we have; until those that lust for power illegally realise that they must acceed to the wishes of the nation. With this thug and criminal on the helm this beautiful country is finished .
  • If the people of Fiji sit back and do nothing then Bainimarama will be successful in taking Fiji way from them right under their noses.Now we see Bainimarama taking Fiji and alligning it with a communist country ie China.This was the very same communist idealism that Fiji together with Britain and its allies stood their ground in the rubber plantations in Malaya and some even made the ultimate sacrifice to free Fiji from Communism.Now look at what Bainimarama is trying to do.Has he forgotten the fallen heros of the Malayan Campaign who gave us our freedom to decide what type of govt we want? Now Bainimarama is trying to take Fiji right back to the communist ideals that we fought hard against in the early fifties.What about those who died in this campaign, are going to forget them because Bainimarama is angry at Australia and NZ for not recognising him? What about you the relatives of the soldiers who died in Malaya, are you going to forget what they died for and blindly follow this idiopt of a dictator?
  • well well well.. since da puppet master has finally found out that we've worked out who's behind they are using a different tactic to derail the minds of the fijians, NZ & Aussie....thats its not them but china....cmon u bloody morons... we are not f....n stupid.

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