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China in the Maritime Pacific Workshop

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Online event

Event description
Delve further into China's statecraft in the Pacific region and the responses of Pacific Island States to this increasing engagement.

About this event

		China in the Maritime Pacific Workshop image

This workshop examines China’s statecraft in the Pacific region and the responses of Pacific Island States to this increasing engagement. In particular, it examines how Pacific Island States have responded to regional initiatives such as China’s Maritime Silk Road (MSR) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including through efforts to ‘territorialise’ their own maritime domains and consolidate their own sovereignty over resources.

Much of the current MSR and BRI analysis tends to overlook the agency of Pacific Island States in shoring up their economic sovereignty and sustainability and focuses on narrowly defined security implications such as military basing. This overlooks the fact that a large percentage of the world’s oceans and living resources such as fish and minerals remain under the control of Pacific Island States, who rely upon access to and the sustainability of these resources for prosperity and livelihoods. The workshop will explore, among other ideas, the use of economic instruments in maritime domains to achieve national objectives and the emerging idea of maritime geo-economics. Discussion will be themed around three pillars:

• Foreign policy in the Pacific

• Chinese diplomacy and Strategy in the Pacific

• The blue economy and maritime security in the Pacific


About the Program

Over four days we will host four 90-minute panels. Each expert speaker will make a 10- minute opening presentation/statement. This will be followed by brief comments from a chair/discussant, leading into a Chatham House discussion among workshop participants and stakeholders.


Panel 1: Monday 26 July 2021, 12 noon – 1.30 pm (AEST)

"Foreign policy in the Pacific: actors and agency"

Chair/discussant: Professor Steven Ratuva (Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury)

Dr Michael O’Keefe (Director of the Master of International Relations, La Trobe University), “The agency of Pacific States in geopolitics”

James Goldrick (Adjunct Professor, UNSW Canberra), “Chinese Naval Strategy in the Pacific”

Dr Ma Bo (Assistant Research Professor, Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies, Nanjing University), “China's Fragmented Approach towards Indo-Pacific Strategy”


Panel 2: Tuesday 27 July 2021, 12 noon – 1.30 pm (AEST)

"Chinese diplomacy and strategy in the Pacific"

Chair/discussant: Dr Pichamon Yeophantong (Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow and Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Development, UNSW Canberra)

Associate Professor Tarcisius Kabutaulaka (Director of Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai'i), “China’s Corporate Diplomacy in Oceania”

Dr Nicola Baker (Senior Lecturer and Director of the Diplomacy and International Affairs Programme, University of the South Pacific), “China and the Pacific Islands region in Global Context”

Dr Anna Powles (Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies, Massey University), “The influence of geopolitics on Pacific foreign and national policy making”

Henryk Szadziewski (PhD Candidate, University of Hawai'i), “Agents of the Belt and Road Initiative or Agents of Agency? Chinese Companies in Oceania”


Panel 3: Wednesday 28 July 2021, 12 noon – 1.30 pm (AEST)

"The blue economy and maritime security in the Pacific" (part 1)

Chair/discussant: Jonathan Pryke (Director of Pacific Islands Program, Lowy Institute)

Dr Mark Bailey (Visiting Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer, UNSW Canberra), “Chinese transnational organised crime groups in the Pacific and illicit maritime networks”

Jose Sousa Santos (Pacific Policy Fellow, Australia Pacific Security College), “The transnational crime-maritime security nexus in the Pacific”

Melodie Ruwet (PhD Candidate, Griffith University), “Fishing Disputes between Chine and South American Pacific Nations”


Panel 4: Thursday 29 July 2021, 12 noon – 1.30 pm (AEST)

"Maritime security in the Pacific" (part 2)

Chair/discussant: Dr Tess Newton Cain (Pacific Hub, Griffith Asia Institute)

Professor Joanne Wallis (Professor of International Security, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Adelaide) and Dr Bec Strating (Executive Director of La Trobe Asia and Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, La Trobe University), “Maritime territorialisation and China’s role in the Blue Pacific continent”

Associate Professor Jian Zhang (Deputy Head (Education) of the School of Humanities & Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra), “The Belt and Road Initiative and China’s Geo-economic strategy in the Pacific”

Associate Professor Douglas Guilfoyle (UNSW Canberra), “Coastguards as agents of (in)stability: The Pacific and South China Sea compared”


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Organiser UNSW Canberra

Organiser of China in the Maritime Pacific Workshop

Working at the intersection of a leading university and a military academy, UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy has been educating defence leaders for over half a century.  UNSW Canberra graduates shape Australia, the region and the international community as leaders in defence, government, and industry.

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