24 Oct 2012

Fiji opposition weakened by China backing regime, says expert

6:56 pm on 24 October 2012

An expert on China's foreign policy and presence in the Pacific, Dr Anne-Marie Brady, says China's support for the present Fiji regime of Commodore Frank Bainimarama has undermined his opposition.

She told a conference on democracy in the Pacific that China has given the regime strong and explicit practical and moral support since the 2006 coup.

She says voices in opposition to the regime like the Methodist Church, the Great Council of Chiefs, political parties and parts of the media would have made more of a comeback if it were not for China's support.

"Bainimarama is able to show the Fiji people, look we're not alone. We have the support of a very important state. I think it strenthened his hand at being able to push forward other changes in Fiji politics."

She says China's funding of infrastructure projects out of the range of traditional donors has given the regime added legitimacy, but she says this is not a deliberate strategy.