The Indo-Pacific tug-of-war has already begun to fray the mat of our Pasifika Household, warns the Pacific Conference of Churches.
Speaking at the Synod of the Etaretia Porotetani Maohi (Maohi Protestant Church) on Moorea, Ma’ohi Nui (French Polynesia) last week, PCC General Secretary called churches to be vigilant of the use of terms such as “regional security” as an excuse for geo-political powerplay.
“The rhetoric, the talk by the militarised and colonial and neo-colonial countries around the Indo-Pacific Strategy, around Climate Change and even the Blue Pacific is a way of using security to control our region and to gain support from so-called democratic countries to shut down processes of decolonisation – of self-determination.”
He cited the late inclusion of “Peace and Security” as a thematic area for the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent as one example, and most recently statements by French President Macron of increasing French militarization in Kanaky (New Caledonia) and warning that independence could mean a “Chinese naval base tomorrow”.
“This year, the promotion of fear of an “enemy country” has been used to say that Kanaky and Maohi must remain part of France for the security of the whole region – as they renew military alliances using the bribe of funding for development.”
“The pressure on Pacific Island countries to choose sides in this “new cold war” is beginning to unravel the cords that bind our regional, sub-regional and national political and social structures. For local communities, the concern is not geopolitics but improvement of their wellbeing through better healthcare, infrastructure development, education and employment opportunities across their islands and highlands.”
“We see more pieces of silver being given out in the name of Climate Change Adaptation – when they know what we really need is Climate Justice, probably because they know that they cannot talk about Climate Justice without talking about Nuclear Justice. These are intergenerational issues which means Pacific communities have long memories that outlast changing foreign policies. There is talk of forgiveness but no admission of guilt by colonisers. There can be no forgiveness by oppressed people unless there is an honest admission of injustice and a meaningful commitment to restoration and restitution by the oppressor,” he said.