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‘We should be deeply worried’: Molan on China’s dept-trap diplomacy in the Pacific

Luke Grant

As China continues to extend its hegemonic reach into the Pacific through excessive loans,  there are calls for the Coalition to reverse cuts to the foreign aid budget.

The former minister responsible for the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, says now is not the time to dull down on our deployment of aid to the region. This is because the cuts coincide with Beijing’s increasing use of debt-trap diplomacy. Here, Beijing saddles vulnerable nations with debt they’re unable to pay back, wooing them with white elephant infrastructure and loans. When the nation inevitably defaults, China seizes possession of crucial strategic infrastructure, like a port, as compensation.

Senator Jim Molan says this is a threat to Australia. He thinks we need to do more, by way of foreign aid, to protect our strategic interests.

“China gave about $1.7 billion in development aid in the last decade,” explains Molan.

“We give about $7 billion in aid. But China brings in commercial organisations which give far, far more.”

“We should be deeply worried about this. It’s critically important for Australia, we’ve got to stay involved (on an aid level). It’s become a contested strategic space in a very short period.”

Molan’s warnings come at a time when Labor is calling for Australia, not China, to be the “partner of choice” in a proposed port redevelopment in Papua New Guinea.

“The port on Manus Island, China is very interested in Manus. Anyone whose been there can see the strategic value of it.”

Click PLAY below for the full interview

 

Luke Grant
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