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The Proliferation of External Geographies in Oceania: ‘It is Nice to be Relevant’
Oceania has become the subject of a proliferation of new policies towards it by external powers. The economic presence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a leading factor in the development of these Pacific agendas, opening a new era of uncertain political and economic competition. The arrival of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative in the region has only heightened the strategic anxiety of the US, Australia and other powers. In 2012, and in response to several high-level diplomatic visits to Oceania, then president of Kiribati Anote Tong, remarked wryly, ‘It is nice to be relevant’. Given the wide range of Pacific initiatives proposed, his words were also prescient. Within the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), states in Oceania seek to not only diversify relations beyond former and current colonial powers, but also prioritise human security emergencies, such as climate crisis.