China has started negotiations with ten South Pacific countries with a proposal to help improve network infrastructure, cybersecurity, digital forensics and other capabilities with the help of Chinese suppliers.
The draft agreement offers assistance in data management, training of local police and the compilation of a nautical chart. Negotiations are also underway on the following possibilities:
- delivery of applications for customs management;
- financing of data transmission channels to island States;
- assistance in ensuring cybersecurity.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has made a counter-offer of financial assistance with fewer conditions to protect herself from China’s well-known financial ambitions.
Some countries accuse China of “debt trap diplomacy.” China provides large loans to small countries, which subsequently find themselves unable to repay the debt. Default due to non-payment of debt leads to the fact that Chinese organizations take ownership of assets. Pacific countries refused the offer due to the possible loss of sovereignty or control over key assets.
Pacific countries do not have a large population or economy, but their location is of strategic importance. Airports and harbors of countries enable China to project power in the trans-Pacific direction.
As part of the debt trap diplomacy, the creditor country
intentionally provides excessive credit to the debtor country, driving the country into
a debt trap. This is done with the intention of obtaining economic or
political concessions from the debtor country when it becomes unable to repay
the debt. The terms of the loan are often not advertised, and the borrowed money is usually paid
by contractors from the creditor country.