« Asia and the Pacific/Geopolitics and Regionalism

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Over the last two decades the Peoples Republic of China has become a major aid donor, trade partner, and source of investment in the Pacific Islands. This is one of the most significant developments in the region in recent times with implications for the diplomatic priorities of Pacific Islands states as well as the aspirations of ordinary Pacific Islanders. This micro-credential looks at the history of China’s rise, the nature of its interests in the region, the diplomatic competition between China and Taiwan, as well as the response of more established external actors like Australia, New Zealand, and the United States to Beijing’s increased regional influence. This micro-credential will examine China’s changing role in the Pacific, with a focus on Pacific and Chinese perspectives. Enrollees will gain a comprehensive understanding of the People’s Republic of China’s motivations for engaging with the Pacific, with a particular focus on Chinese state and non-state actors involved in aid, investment, migration and diplomacy in the Pacific. Key questions include: how have Pacific Islands states benefited from or been disadvantaged by China’s increased regional profile? Will they be able to retain their sovereignty as the rivalry between China and the US intensifies? How do ordinary citizens view these developments, particularly as Chinese companies and Chinese nationals become more active in their communities?


  • Introduction: Changing Geopolitics in the Pacific
  • The Belt and Road is here: China’s economic engagement with the Pacific
  • China Aid: Debt Traps, Win-Win and South-South Cooperation
  • Chinese Migration to the Pacific and Diaspora Management
  • The New Pacific Diplomacy: Island Responses to China’s Rise
  • Stepping Up and Resetting: Traditional Powers Respond to China’s Pacific Rise

Learning outcomes 

Upon successful completion, enrollees will have the knowledge and skills to: 
  • Describe and discuss important aspects of China’s rise as a global power, and the nature of its activities in Oceania.
  • Discuss the impact of China’s increased profile on existing relations of power in the region, particularly traditional Western diplomatic partners like the US, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Analyse the institutional foundations underlying China’s aid, investment, migration and diplomacy in the Pacific.
  • Evaluate the implications of China’s rise for the present circumstances and future aspirations of ordinary Pacific islanders
  • Indicative assessment

    • Podcast script and episode: 30%; Links to Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4
    • Research essay 70%; Links to Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3,4

    Assumed knowledge 

    This Micro-credential is taught at graduate level and assumes the generic skills of a Bachelors or equivalent. 

    Micro-credential stack information 

     This Micro-credential is currently not part of a stack.


    • Course Code: DPA05

    • Workload: Contact hours: 12 hours, face-to-face or online (eg via Zoom). Individual study and assessment: approx. 50-60 hours.

    • ANU unit value: 3 units

    • Course Code Level: 8000

    • Contact:  ANU Department of Pacific Affairs: dpa@anu.edu.au

    This Micro-credential is taught at a graduate level.  This is not an AQF qualification. 

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