Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Chinese assistance in the Pacific: agency, effectiveness and the role of Pacific Island governments

By Matthew Dornan and Philippa Brant 

Chinese development assistance in the Pacific has attracted increasing attention since the 1st China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum in 2006, at which China announced US$492 million in concessional loans to the region. Another US$1 billion in concessional loans was announced at the 2nd China-Pacific Forum in 2013. This article explores how Pacific island governments negotiate and oversee the implementation of Chinese official development assistance in four Pacific Island case study countries where assistance has been significant: Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa and the Cook Islands. We argue that the way in which governments have pursued, overseen and implemented projects has differed considerably, and is an important determinant of the effectiveness and developmental impact of Chinese assistance.

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