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Pacific pivot to China?

By David Morris - posted Friday, 18 November 2016

There is an old Chinese curse, famous around the world: "May you live in interesting times." There is no doubt we do.

There is a great disruption underway, a shift of the world on its axis.

We see it in the rise of the great economies of the Asia Pacific, now driving the world economy, building massive consumer societies and reducing poverty at a record rate.


We see it in the anxiety of those who were beneficiaries of the old world order and who suffered from the financial crisis that hit the Atlantic economies hard.

It is natural for some to have apprehension, to believe that trade, immigration and geo-strategic power are zero sum games. But it is much more complicated than that.

There is certainly a rebalancing underway towards Asia, where the greatest population lives and the rebalance no doubt will have twists and turns that we cannot predict. But the Asian economies are integrated into the global economy and their rise will build the global economy. If we work together.

For the Pacific region, the part of the world where the smallest population lives, this rebalancing of global economic power to our north takes place at the same time as other great seismic shifts.

In recent times the overwhelming consensus of scientific evidence indicates that the Pacific Islands face an existential threat from climate change, every bit as confronting as previous existential challenges of colonialism and war.

Australia and New Zealand, too, are experiencing great change. They have undergone transformational social change as a result of mass immigration that has strengthened their economies and made their cultures much more diverse. Australia and New Zealand are truly connected to the Asian region in a way that previous generations would not have imagined.


No island is isolated from changes in the world.

Notwithstanding the challenge of climate change, the good news for the whole region is that Asia's economic rise brings opportunities to integrate into regional and global supply chains, financial flows and of course high spending tourists and students. Economic health is the bedrock, because economic strength creates the capacity to make choices, to act in our national, regional and global interest.

Let's take the big Pacific island as our first case in point.

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Speech by David Morris, Chief Representative of the Pacific Islands Forum in China, to the launch of the Blue Book on Oceania at the Center for Oceania Studies, Sun Yat Sen University, Guangzhou, November 16, 2016.

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About the Author

David Morris is Chief Representative of the Pacific Islands Forum and Trade Commissioner in China. He is a former Australian diplomat, senior political adviser, trade and investment official and leader of Australia's bipartisan movement for constitutional reform, the Australian Republican Movement. Twitter @dm_aus

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