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China is up to no good. Just look what's happening in Samoa.

The tiny Pacific island of Samoa has been plunged into crisis after its new prime minister, who has pledged to scrap a $100 million port deal with China, was locked out of parliament this week amid a bitter dispute over the election result.

Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, the opposition leader set to become Samoa’s first female prime minister after a knife-edge victory in April’s poll, could dent China’s growing influence in the strategic region, if allowed to take office.

But the future of her government hangs in the balance after she was forced to opt for a makeshift swearing-in ceremony in a tent after Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, the incumbent prime minister, refuse to cede power.

Both leaders have accused each other of staging a bloodless coup, with Mr Tuilaepa, the world’s second longest serving prime minster, charging that his opponent is guilty of “treason” for going ahead with the ceremony.

On Thursday, Samoa’s attorney-general said she would try to have the ad hoc swearing in of Ms Fiame’s Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party declared “unconstitutional and unlawful” in a Supreme Court hearing.

The outcome of the dispute will be closely watched by Beijing and by Washington and its regional allies New Zealand and Australia.

Ms Fiame has said while she intends to maintain good relations with China, that she plans to shelve the controversial Beijing-backed Vaiusu port development that would plunge the country into further debt to the Chinese. The port project was a divisive issue during the election campaign.

"Samoa is a small country. Our seaports and our airports cater for our needs," Fiame told Reuters by telephone from Samoa's capital of Apia.

"It's very difficult to imagine that we would need the scale that's being proposed under this particular project when there are more pressing projects that the government needs to give priority to."

James Fanell, a former director of intelligence of the US Pacific Fleet, told the Telegraph the proposed port was one of several regional projects that could be converted from commercial to military use, raising alarm bells about China’s strategic ambitions across the Pacific.

“Before the Chinese ever talked about the Belt and Road initiative, we were talking about China’s “string of pearls” strategy where they were making deals and inserting themselves into these small nations, getting them saddled with debt,” he said.

“From a security standpoint for Australia and New Zealand, are you really going to be happy to have three or four Chinese port facilities that Chinese navy ships can operate in and out of?”

Jose Sousa-Santos, Pacific Policy Fellow at Australia Pacific Security College, said China’s interest in the port was “strategic opportunism.”

“Maritime connectivity is vital in the Pacific and China has engaged in a form of whack-a-mole around the region but hasn’t been very successful so far. The Vaiusu port development had progressed further than others,” he said.

Samoa’s hesitancy over the port came amid “growing concern across the security sectors in the Pacific about Chinese economic and political influence,” he added.

But Dr Anna Powles, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at New Zealand’s Massey University, said while there may be greater scrutiny of Chinese loans under a Fiame administration, that the country’s ties to China would not fundamentally change.

“I am doubtful we will see a major shift as Samoa is heavily indebted to China, owing just under 20% of their GDP. The economic relationship is fairly embedded and we are unlikely to see any changes to the political relationship – Samoa has had closer bilateral ties with China than many Pacific countries,” she said.

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by Anonymousreply 12September 14, 2021 4:19 AM

This was talked about on the Rachel Maddow Show earlier this week.

Like Putin, china is promoting political instability around the world.

by Anonymousreply 1May 29, 2021 7:24 PM

In Hong Kong China just made holding vigils to Tiananmen punishable by 5 years in prison.

by Anonymousreply 2May 29, 2021 7:26 PM

China is a house of cards that wants to gobble up everything in its path to sustain itself. Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders know this all too well this which is why even a country like Vietnam would prefer America any day over China.

by Anonymousreply 3May 29, 2021 7:41 PM

China is the new USA.

by Anonymousreply 4May 29, 2021 8:14 PM

R3, Among ASEAN members The Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore are strongly pro-US, but Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Brunei are moving further into China's sphere. Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar have always been pro-China.

by Anonymousreply 5May 29, 2021 8:14 PM

R5, that's sad.

by Anonymousreply 6May 29, 2021 8:19 PM

[quote] China just "gifted" Cambodia a $150,000,000 stadium, out of the goodness of their little black hearts:

Cambodia has received the keys to a brand new, $150 million stadium from China, the latest country to be gifted such a project as Beijing tries to build influence worldwide.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi formally handed over the Morodok Techno National Stadium, which China financed and started building in 2013, to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday, reported the Khmer Times.

At the handover ceremony, Wang said China funded the project because it was close friends with Cambodia, per the Times. Cambodia plans to use the stadium, located on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh, to host the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in 2023.

The stadium was designed to look like a boat, with a 324-foot-tall structure on either end that resembles a prow and a stern. The design is meant to signify China and Cambodia's relationship, because Chinese people used to sail by ship to Cambodia hundreds of years ago, Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon said, according to Xinhua Net.

The shape of the "prows" also symbolizes the "Sampeah," a traditional Cambodian greeting or show of respect where a person presses their palms together in front of their chest and bows, per Xinhua Net.

Surrounding the five-story stadium is a wide moat with fountains, paying homage to Cambodia's iconic 500-acre Angkor Wat temple. Cambodian journalist Chhon Veasna, 39, posted a video on his YouTube channel "Family of Explorer" of the moat and stadium interior a day before the grand opening. He was able to get inside the stadium because he works for local media.

The building can seat 60,000 people and is kitted out with an international-standard football pitch, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and a running track, per the Khmer Times. It also has a training hall, indoor gym, and aquatics center, according to the Cambodian SEA Games Organizing Committee, and can host sporting matches like cricket, basketball, and badminton.

Construction of the stadium took 340 Chinese engineers and 240 Cambodian workers, according to the Khmer Times.

"These are just the early fruits harvested during this season of growth for the 'ironclad' Cambodia-China relationship," Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the stadium's handover ceremony, per the Phnom Penh Post.

China has been giving away infrastructure projects to developing countries in exchange for influence, under a plan it calls the "belt and road initiative."

It has helped nations build airports, roads, and shipping lanes, but stadiums in particular have been one of its big-ticket items for decades. More than 100 stadiums in Asian, Latin American, and African countries have been built, designed, and financed by China, according to a 2019 report published in the Habitat International journal.

Some researchers have dubbed the tactic "stadium diplomacy."

China has spent billions of dollars in aid, loans, and investments in Cambodia, and the two nations have maintained close ties for years. In June, Cambodia demolished and replaced two US-funded facilities at one of its naval bases, sparking concerns that China may be expanding its military presence there.

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by Anonymousreply 7September 14, 2021 1:35 AM
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by Anonymousreply 8September 14, 2021 2:16 AM

Yeah I went on holiday there a few years back with my partner, was struck by how may "sponsored by China" signs we saw on schools etc there. Really worrying.

They have been pulling the same shit in Africa, getting third world countries into massive debt to get them under CCP control. Building unnecessarily huge infrastructure projects and saddling these places with the debt, and then using that as leverage to gut the places for resources. They're only interested in resource extraction or political/ military advantage, in Samoa's case, its mostly the latter

by Anonymousreply 9September 14, 2021 2:19 AM

I realize they're more vulnerable than the U.S (though not by much). But they need to lock China THE FUCK OUT of their country. Politically, and otherwise.

by Anonymousreply 10September 14, 2021 2:21 AM

Cambodia and Laos are the two countries that consistently derail any hopes of ASEAN condemning China's aggression in the South China Sea. Whenever Vietnam or the Philippines try to get consensus on a cohesive policy, Cambodia and Laos always side with China.

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by Anonymousreply 11September 14, 2021 3:10 AM

Please, sir, I want Samoa.

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by Anonymousreply 12September 14, 2021 4:19 AM
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