The BRI is not limited to the Eurasian continent. The new Silk Roads connect China to all continents.

Following the APEC summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (November 17-18, 2018), several Pacific states leaders confirmed their intention to join in the BRI, responding to the proposal formulated by the Chinese president. Prior to the summit, Xi Jinping had called on all Pacific Islands leaders to participate in this connectivity project.

In June 2018, during his visit to Beijing, Peter O’Neill the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea confirmed his interest in the Chinese initiative. In July 2018, Niue‘s prime minister, Sir Toke Talagi, signed a memorandum of understanding with China about the BRI, and in September, Samoa‘s prime minister Tuilaepa traveled to Tianjin to discuss about the new Silk Roads.

Following the APEC summit, Fiji also signed a memorandum of understanding with Beijing. Vanuatu and Tonga made similar agreements; and the Cook Islands Prime Minister announced that his country will soon sign an agreement to join in the new Silk Roads.

In the case of Tonga, this agreement was accompanied by a re-settlement of its debt belonging to China.

The French Pacific territories such as New Caledonia and French Polynesia are also trying to develop their relations with China.

For Pacific states, this rapprochement with China is seen as an opportunity for development. Many of these islands are hit by high unemployment and need new activities. Islanders also expect more Chinese tourists to visit their country.

The expansion of the new Silk Roads in the Pacific region will enable Pacific stats to rebalance their relations great powers. Until now, they have been very dependent on the United States and Australia, and by strengthening their relations with China, they hope to be more visible by the international community. The BRI will also bring them China’s experience and assistance in some development projects.

This rapprochement between the Pacific states and China can also be explained by the deep concerns of these island states regarding environmental  protection. Some states like Niue could simply disappear in the case of sea level rise. While the US administration has chosen to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change, China has become a major environmental power that has  the ability to invest heavily in climate change solutions and environmental research.

With the BRI, Pacific countries hope to preserve their environment and create new opportunities for the population.

The BRI, a new Pacific way
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