December 1, 2021

Fears over China’s involvement in Kiribati’s ditching of marine reserve

Fears over China’s involvement in Kiribati’s ditching of marine reserve

By Barbara Dreaver
11 November 2021

EXCERPT

There’s deep concern that the move has been driven by China.

In 2019, Kiribati ditched its 23-year allegiance to Taiwan, instead signing up to China and the promise of a $66 million grant.

PIPA is attractive to China not only for its fishing wealth but its strategically significant location near US military installations

Anna Powles from Massey University’s Defence and Security Centre says getting rid of PIPA is a huge shock and an extraordinary conversation to be having in the week of COP23.

She said there are going to be significant environmental consequences which will damage Kiribati’s international reputation not to mention the strategic element.

“Kiribati has real strategic value to China if it could potentially develop some strategic infrastructure on Kanton Island which has commercial fishery usage but potential military usage as well,” she said

China has already provided funding to develop the formerly US-owned Kanton including upgrading an airstrip on the island.

President Taneti Maamau has denied it will be used for military purposes but it’s feared China is gaining a tight grip on the financially vulnerable island nation.

To add to international concern, Kiribati has signalled its intention to leave the Pacific Islands Forum where leaders work together for the good of the region.

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Want to listen to discussion on this article? Check out China Watch Radio episode “Rational, Respectful Red Line” from 18 November 2021 at the following link…

CHINA WATCH RADIO

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