22 Sep 2010

China reliance is poor aid for better Fiji governance, says Australian institute

3:07 pm on 22 September 2010

The Australian international policy think tank, the Lowy Institute, says Fiji's reliance on China is a cause for concern if governance in Fiji is to improve.

This comes as a delegation from China's defence ministry is expected to meet Fiji's interim Defence Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau in Suva tomorrow.

Jenny Hayward-Jones, who heads the Melanesia Programme at the Lowy Institute, says it is significant to see China's continuous support for Fiji and its bilateral agreement since the December 2006 military coup which its plotters say was to fight corruption.

She says while she does not believe China wants to assert its power by setting up a base in Fiji, she is worried about the relationship.

"I think it is of concern that we're seeing Fiji continually turn to China and look to China as a model, physically on governance and on issues like freedom of expression and that sort of thing. As long as Fiji continues to look to China, I don't think we're going to see better governance in Fiji in the near future."

Jenny Hayward-Jones says she thinks Fiji is after financial support rather than military support.