Debunking myths about Pacific island countries

Taiwan’s presence in the Solomons

By Professor Steven Ratuva

Contrary to popular perception about their political “passivity,” Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have developed very tactical, shrewd and calculating approaches to how they respond to the often ignorant and patronizing attitudes of foreign powers. It is against this backdrop, for countries like Australia and China, that the effectiveness of their engagement with PICs is determined.

One image the media has constructed is that of “impoverished” islanders, prone to a cult-movement type mentality and always craving for handouts. These myths conceal the salience of Pacific agency, in particular how the PICs leverage their “smallness” to maximise the economic and political benefits to themselves and bridge the power disparity between them and countries such as Australia, China, New Zealand and United States.

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