China’s expanding Pacific footprint – Financial Times

From the Financial Times (link):

With determination and tact, China is steadily increasing its commercial, diplomatic and influence, especially in the Asia- half of the globe. Wen Jiabao, Chinese premier, cheerfully accepted a roasted and whale’s tooth from his Fijian hosts last week to prove it.

Hu Jintao, Chinese president, will make a well-publicised trip to Washington next week. Less prominent, but in some ways more revealing of Beijing’s global diplomatic ambitions, has been Mr Wen’s Asia-Pacific voyage.

Mr Wen was in to meet leaders of the seven Pacific island states that recognise China rather than , rewarding them with preferences, debt relief, soft loans and the promise of Chinese . He presided over a $651m deal to supply China with nickel and cobalt from Papua New Guinea, and said the exchange of vital natural for Chinese money and skills “without any political strings attached” was not diplomatic expediency but “a strategic decision”.

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