The China Alternative

The China Alternative

Changing Regional Order in the Pacific Islands

Edited by: Graeme Smith, Terence Wesley-Smith

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In this collection, 17 leading scholars based in Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and China analyse key dimensions of the changing relationship between China and the Pacific Islands and explore the strategic, economic and diplomatic implications for regional actors.

The China Alternative includes chapters on growing great power competition in the region, as well as the response to China’s rise by the US and its Western allies and the island countries themselves. Other chapters examine key dimensions of China’s Pacific engagement, including Beijing’s programs of aid and diplomacy, as well as the massive investments of the Belt and Road Initiative. The impact of China’s rivalry for recognition with Taiwan is examined, and several chapters analyse Chinese communities in the Pacific, and their relationships with local societies. The China Alternative provides ample material for informed judgements about the ability of island leaders to maintain their agency in the changing regional order, as well as other issues of significance to the peoples of the region.

‘China’s “discovery” of the diverse Pacific islands, intriguingly resonant of the era of European explorers, is impacting on this too-long-overlooked region through multiple currents that this important book guides us through.’
—Rowan Callick, Griffith University

The China Alternative is a must-read for all students and practitioners interested in understanding the new geopolitics of the Pacific. It assembles a stellar cast of Pacific scholars to deeply explore the impact of the changing role of China on the Pacific islands region. Significantly, it also puts the Pacific island states at the centre of this analysis by questioning the collective agency they might have in this rapidly evolving strategic context.’
—Greg Fry, The Australian National University


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Mar 2021
ANU Press
Pacific Series
Social Sciences: Politics & International Studies, Social Policy & Administration
East Asia: China; Pacific

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The China Alternative »

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  1. Mapping the Blue Pacific in a Changing Regional Order (PDF, 0.3MB)Tarcisius Kabutaulaka doi
  2. A New Cold War? Implications for the Pacific Islands (PDF, 0.3MB)Terence Wesley-Smith doi
  3. Australia’s Response to China in the Pacific: From Alert to Alarmed (PDF, 0.3MB)Merriden Varrall doi
  4. China’s Impact on New Zealand Foreign Policy in the Pacific: The Pacific Reset (PDF, 0.3MB)Iati Iati doi
  5. Associations Freely Chosen: New Geopolitics in the North Pacific (PDF, 0.3MB)Gerard A. Finin doi
  6. Stable, Democratic and Western: China and French Colonialism in the Pacific (PDF, 0.3MB)Nic Maclellan doi
  7. A Reevaluation of China’s Engagement in the Pacific Islands (PDF, 0.3MB)Zhou Fangyin doi
  8. Domestic Political Reforms and China’s Diplomacy in the Pacific: The Case of Foreign Aid (PDF, 0.3MB)Denghua Zhang doi
  9. A Search for Coherence: The Belt and Road Initiative in the Pacific Islands (PDF, 0.4MB)Henryk Szadziewski doi
  10. Solomon Islands’ Foreign Policy Dilemma and the Switch from Taiwan to China (PDF, 0.3MB)Transform Aqorau doi
  11. ‘We’re Not Indigenous. We’re Just, We’re Us’: Pacific Perspectives on Taiwan’s Austronesian Diplomacy (PDF, 0.3MB)Jessica Marinaccio doi
  12. Building a Strategic Partnership: Fiji–China Relations Since 2008 (PDF, 0.2MB)Sandra Tarte doi
  13. Bridging the Belt and Road Initiative in Papua New Guinea (PDF, 0.3MB)Sarah O’Dowd doi
  14. The Shifting Fate of China’s Pacific Diaspora (PDF, 0.3MB)Fei Sheng and Graeme Smith doi
  15. On-the-Ground Tensions with Chinese Traders in Papua New Guinea (PDF, 0.2MB)Patrick Matbob doi
  16. Overseas Chinese, Soft Power and China’s People-to-People Diplomacy in Timor-Leste (PDF, 0.3MB)Laurentina ‘Mica’ Barreto Soares doi


‘Eventually, the overall picture that readers will get from this cutting-edge volume is one where the China threat discourse has become one among others of equal, if not superior, argumentative value. It follows that, rather than treating the supposedly destabilizing power of Chinese interests on security, commerce, governance, and other issues as minor or non-influential, The China Alternative encourages scholars to treat new Sino-Pacific relations in their own right, i.e., as likely to develop independently from the external views on them within a framework in which the West is the West, rather than the centre of the world.’

— Review in Pacific Affairs by Rodolfo Maggio, University of Turin, Turin.

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