The South Pacific islands are heir to a complex political legacy: indigenous cultures, Western colonialism, and the overseas Chinese and Indian diaspora.
In recent years, populist and democratic movements in the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji have come into conflict with traditional political elites and Chinese and Indian commercial elements.
Global geopolitics has touched the islands as China and Taiwan jockeyed for influence and diplomatic recognition.
On top of everything else, Australia and New Zealand have laid claim to regional leadership and quasi-suzerainty over the islands with renewed vigor in an effort to extend their reach and counter the growing Chinese presence.
This year has already witnessed turmoil in the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Fiji, with direct consequences for China and India. And there is probably more trouble to come.
With this background, China Matters is pleased to add David Stanley’s South Pacific Travel blog to our blogroll.
Mr. Stanley has written on the region for over a quarter century and provides an insider’s view of the politics and society of the island nations, as well as providing vital information, historical context, and analysis for the visitor.
His scrupulous and detailed reporting provides a fascinating picture of island societies in traumatic transition and his site is a necessary stop for readers seeking to understand the impact of globalization on this part of the world and its implications for Western and Asian policymakers.
Here’s a taste:
Qoliqoli Extortion in Fiiiji
The Qarase government has introduced a Qoliqoli Bill in Fiji’s parliament which would return traditional inshore fishing rights (qoliqoli) to the indigenous Fijian clans. When Fiji became a British colony in 1874, ownership of Fiji’s shorelines and reefs passed from the Fijian clans to the state. The current bill would reverse that and change the rules for every established beach resort in Fiji.
Needless to say, Fijis tourism industry is in shock, and groups of self-proclaimed qoliqoli owners have already begun calling at the resorts demanding money. To avoid having their properties torched, many resort owners are already paying up, even though the bill hasn’t passed and current qoliqoli demands are illegal...
As they say, read the whole thing.