Solomons-China deal raises alarm bells, but the West is China’s main stake and Australia has looked the other way

In 1993, then-Prime Minister of China Zhu Rongji stood in front of a large map on the wall of his office, pointed to it, and saw China’s destiny.

China was largely landlocked, he said, open to the sea on only one side. It was different from other major powers looking at an ocean world.

Zhu said China’s future lies in the west. It was there that the country could develop a commercial and tourist empire.

The story was relayed by Shah Javed Barki, when the Pakistani-American economist was vice president of the World Bank. He was in the room when Zhu presented his vision.

Australia is drawing red lines and talking war after China’s security pact with the Solomon Islands, but if we’re concerned about China’s growing power, we’re looking in the wrong place.

Australia draws red lines and talks war after China-Solomon Islands security pact.(ABC News, AAP and AP)

Yes, Pacific island nations like the Solomons are important but, for China, looking west is key. Beijing has developed a powerful Sino-Pakistani economic corridor. He built a port at Gwadar which opens up the Middle East and connects it to Xinjiang in western China.

China is extending its economic influence across Central Asia to the Middle East and Africa. The massive Belt and Road investment and infrastructure project promises to be a 21st century Silk Road.

Of the 146 countries that have joined Belt and Road, the largest number are west of China.

This is Xi Jinping’s grand game.

China’s “long game” is the west

China’s westward expansion strategy aims to secure the supply of energy resources to the Middle East. For China, Westward Expansion seeks to gain a vital advantage over the United States.

The China Shanghai Cooperation Organization includes all Central Asian states. As Diplomat Magazine pointed out, “from Central Asia to the Middle East, no country falls within the direct sphere of influence of the United States or poses a potential threat to China.”

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