Beijing gives Frank Bainimarama cold comfort

Rowan Callick and Christian Kerr | May 02, 2009
Article from: The Australian

CHINA is indicating it is not prepared to place its crucial relationship with Australia at risk by filling Fiji’s international relations vacuum.

Fiji was due to be the first country suspended from the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum from this morning because of its failure to schedule elections by May 1 for later this year. The military-installed Government says it will not hold elections until September 2014.

The country’s military chief and Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, told The Australian this week: “We have a wonderful relationship with China, and we’re trying to build on that. They’re very sympathetic and understand what’s happening here, that we need to do things in our own way.”

However, indications are emerging that Beijing, while maintaining a strong relationship with Fiji as an element of the global projection of its “soft power”, does not wish to be perceived as Suva’s new international protector, or to write blank cheques to underpin the country’s collapsing revenues.

Revelations of Beijing’s stance came as Kevin Rudd yesterday rebuffed overtures from Commodore Bainimarama for a summit including his New Zealand counterpart, John Key, to try to resolve the impasse over his refusal to hold elections until 2014.

“The people of Fiji deserve better,” the Prime Minister said, attacking the country’s interim administration. “This military Government has taken a fundamental assault on the institutions of democracy, including the freedom of the press.

“I don’t regard that as a basis for business as usual.”

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said yesterday that given Fiji had shown no intention of a return to democracy, the threat to suspend it from the Pacific Islands Forum would be instigated.

“The effect of the resolution passed unanimously … is effective tomorrow, the first day after May 1,” Mr Smith said.

The latest briefing paper from the Foreign Ministry in Beijing on China’s relations with Pacific island countries says: “The Chinese Government regards aid as mutual, and not as a kind of unilateral alms. The scale of China’s development program in the region is smaller than other donors, and mostly in the form of projects.”

The paper stresses support for the Pacific Islands Forum. “As a dialogue partner to the PIF, China attaches great importance to exchanges and co-operation with the Pacific island countries within the forum framework,” it says.

“China has maintained good co-ordination with the USA, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and other development partners in the region in safeguarding regional stability.

“We are willing to work jointly with all relevant parties to promote stability, development and prosperity in the region.”



  1. Willy Says:

    Well it goes both ways, doesn’t it. The US, EU and Oz are very careful not to rattle China’s cage and in return China plays the good girl and co-ordinates foreign policy. It never ceases to amaze me that a few dreamers both inside and outside the regime still believe that China (or India) would just step in, embrace the ugly dictator. We should ebvery now and then think about the size of our economomy and get a perspective what role a coconut republic of less than a million plays on the international scene. Perhaps FB was still doped when he gave that interview with the Australian….

  2. Katalina Balawanilotu Says:

    China and India will just as soon please the big boys than a third world (less than a 3rd world since Dec. 2006) economy with less than 1 million people. We can’t even say that what we lack in natural resources we can more than make up in human resources. It does better for both India and China to rub shoulders with the elites of the powerful nations than to please a south pacific dictator And if one of the means to gain points with the big boys is the promise to deliver the pacific nation’s dictator’s head on a silver platter — they shall.

    Sorry if that sounds though but hey welcome to the real world. That is the way things work.

  3. Millie Says:

    Once again thank you Katalina!

    You have always said it like how it is without mincing your words.

    If everyone thought like you Fiji would not be in the mess it is in today!

    It is also people like you that will keep stepping up their crusade to keep pressuring Frank and his cronies to call for elections and step aside.

    Keep up the fight – you will one day achieve your gaols.

  4. Jean d'Ark Says:

    Xie xie, China! – Vinaka and Dhanyevaad!

    The people of Fiji will remember who stood up for us and what is right when we eventually get leaders back into place!

  5. Jean d'Ark Says:

    Sorry – that should have been “elected leaders”

  6. Budhau Says:

    The Australian media has bought into the Australian government propaganda crap.

    Now thy have taken this “latest briefing paper from the Foreign Ministry in Beijing on China’s relations with Pacific island countries” and concluded that “Beijing gives Frank Bainimarama cold comfort”.
    That is what the Foreign Affairs ministry in Beijing is supposed to do – to tell the world how responsible the Chinese are.
    The author of the piece pulled all kinds crap out of that foreign affairs ministry paper.

    The author writes, “However, indications are emerging that Beijing, while maintaining a strong relationship with Fiji as an element of the global projection of its “soft power”, does not wish to be perceived as Suva’s new international protector, or to write blank cheques to underpin the country’s collapsing revenues.”

    What indication is he talking about?

    He wrote, “Revelations of Beijing’s stance came as Kevin Rudd yesterday rebuffed overtures from Commodore Bainimarama for a summit including his New Zealand counterpart, John Key, to try to resolve the impasse over his refusal to hold elections until 2014.”

    What fricken revelation?

    What has happened is that Kevin Rudd has gone ballistic on Fiji, to convince the Americans that he taking care of business at his end. Both the Australian and NZ government (especially NZ) are trying to impress the US – as to how thay can safeguard the US interest in the Pacific as it relates to China.

    BTW – what was all that announcements by Rudd that the UN would not be using any more Fijian peacekeepers – that decision was made about six month ago.

    Maybe Fraenkel can take this and do one of his analysis.

  7. Nostradamus Says:

    Rudd did not sound ballistic. He is just matter of factly telling it like it is. You don’t expect anyone, including the People of Fiji to accept a military dictator who took over with guns, do you?

    This is just the normal course of events. They did everything possible to enable Voreqe to correct himself vis a vis the Fiji People and world standards, but he did not. So the consequences go into effect. The Forum cannot be seen to be dealing permanently with a self-imposed leader who has no popular or political support in the nation he has hijacked. Evern George Speight and Rabuka were way ahead of him in domestic and foreign relations.

    I don’t see that Australia has anything to get ballistic about. Voreqe is determined to dig his own grave and no one else should waste time with him. He represents no one of interest and the sooner he hangs himself the better. One just hopes that when the military kicks him out they will have to good sense to follow the recommendations of the Appeals judges and hold an election within 3 months so the economy, what is left of it, can begin to recover.

  8. Budhau Says:

    Nostra, don’t you see that Rudd’s announcement regarding the UN peacekeepers has just a load of crap – that UN policy has been in place since late last year. He had just gone ballistic because he is trying to get some political mileage out of this – and to convince people that Fiji is totally isolated – suspension from Forum, that UN and all that.
    Maybe Rudd, talking tough will convince the Chinese to back off – but I don’t think that is working.

    As for dealing with self imposed leaders who have no popular support – Do you see Rudd having the same policy with China – or you think the Chinese government has popular support. Or you think this double standard is fine – that the Pakistani peace keepers under a military dictatorship is OK, but with Fijians – no can do.

    You see Nostra – all this loud noise by Australia is to fend off the Chinese – sending them a message to back off.

    There will be no election in 2009 – Australia an do whatever it wants. There was still room to negotiate an election in 2011 and 2012 – however, with the position that A/NZ have taken, there is not guarantee that we will even have an election in 2014.
    Rudd wants to play hardball – Franks response was bring in on.

  9. Nostradamus Says:

    Don’t know about the UN thing. As I understand it they are retaining the existing but no new contracts with Fiji.
    As for dealing with self imposed leaders, you deal with what you can. Apparently we have an interest in Fiji, so that is the focus. I am not about to get involved with China or Pakistan. Fiji is not a hopeless case. All they need to do is get rid of the army, and the army highly import intensive, so it should be possible to shut of the pipeline for such a useless and negative influence on Fiji.
    Thank you for you opinions about the Australians and the Chinese. I personally think the Australian interest in the People of Fiji is deeper. After all, they are the main body of tourists who come to Fiji, and they have substantial aid programs.

  10. Nostradamus Says:

    As for Frank and elections, Frank never had any intention of having an election and still does not. He keep making promises to attract supporters, or not lose supporters such as the Indo community, but there is nothing in Frank’s being, history, or mentality which would give him the motive to hold and election, not in 2009, 2011, 2014, or ever. Each promise is just a dely tactic. The real agenda is something else.

    Frank is one of those who believes that because he has power, he is annointed by God to use it in whatever way he wants. He fails to understand the trust and responsibility that goes with the position of army commander. He fails to understand that Fiji as a whole wants to be a constitutional democracy with law and order. For some folks, however, because the demographics they have no nope of achieving supremacy in Fiji, so they have chosen the illegal way to grab power from the majority. It shows what they are made of.

    A recent quote:

    As Indo-Fijian historian Brij Lal has written, “Whatever electoral system is in place, unless there is basic respect for the rule of law, nothing will work. The real cause of political instability in Fiji is not its electoral system, but a large standing army in an unruly environment characterised by a blatant disregard for the verdict of the ballot box.”

  11. Nostradamus Says:

    Racism plays a role too.
    Many in the Indo community see themselves as racially superior to the Fijians (“the natives”). You can easily detect this when talking to them.
    Voreqe too, as a half-caste European, thinks he is racially superior and as such has the right to manipulate and control Fijians. He gathers around himself others who consider themselves superior, the American Evans, the disgraced chiefs Epeli^2 and their disgraced Mara wives.

    Although Frank will promise whatever is convenient at the time to get what he wants, his word is worth shit. He has never taken a single action which would suggest he has any respect for the voters of Fiji, and he knows very well he would get no votes if he sought leadership on a level playing field with other candidates.

  12. Millie Says:


    To stop the racial superior mentality start changing the mindset of Fiji’s youth. That is effective action! Talking about the dictator and his supporters now is not going to get you anywhere. Let the leaders of the international countries deal with them which is what they are doing.

    What you need to do now is educate your youth to say no to coups.

    Tania Major, Aboriginal mother and European father who speaks out srongly on issues concerning the welfare of young indigenous people told Andrew Denton of his ABC show;

    “Youth of today must strife to feel good about themselves and be able to say I am Aboriginal ( Fijian ) and it means I’m six foot two, I am an intellectual, I’m bullet proof and it means DON’T MESS WITH ME, in your case people like Bainimarama, Speight and Rabuka!

    Only way the people of Fiji can help themselves!

    Tania first came to public attention as the youngest person ever elected to ATSIC ( Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission ) a govt body in which Aboriginal Australia Torres Strait Islanders were formally involved in the process of govt affecting their lives.

  13. Budhau Says:

    Nostra – there will always be racists people – Indians, Fijians, whites and whoever.
    I think there are many Indians and Fijians who both have racist attitudes towards other races – so don’t go around singling out one race as having a monopoly on racism.

    Even your racist attitude come out in you comments – I think what Bainimarama is doing has nothing to do with him being a “part European” (or as you put it, half-caste) – BTW I thought he was an indigenous Fijians. When George Speight pulled the last coup in support of the “indigenous cause”, did him being a “part-European” had anything to do with that – I think not, he was just a evil guy.

    Suggesting that Frank being a “half-caste” has something to do with his superiority complex – that is racist in itself – I am sure there are many “half-castes” in here who support your cause – and don’t feel any superior than the next guy.

    To say that Bainimarama thinks he is superior to Fijians and that Ganilau, Nailatikau and that Mara boy are all willing to work with him – now…you sound silly. (Or are you now going to make your Tongan argument – that those folks I have named are not real Fijians either).

    There are a whole lot of racists like you – and there is nothing that can be done about it – and you will probably teach your children to be racists also. You know, people are not born racists – they are taught to be racists.

    All that some folks in Fiji are trying to do is to do away with institutionalized racism – that is why they may want to have a electoral system that is not race based, or have a affirmative action programmes that have more to do with need than race, that our constitution is not racist.

    As for you going around calling someone a “Indian bastard” I don’t think there is any help for you – and I am sure that the Constitution gives you that right – to remain a racist and the freedom of speech to call some a “Indian Bastard”.

    Nostra – that Brij Lal remark about “blatant disregard of the ballot box”… that also is nothing new – and you want to factor in your race theory and you will find that race had very little to do with any of the coups – they were all power grabs.

    So why don’t you just accept it that all citizens of Fiji are equal, and of one of them becomes the next PM, and happens to be a non-Fijian, it is OK. BTW – you still have the right to object if your daughter falls in love with an Indian.

  14. Nostradamus Says:

    “All that some folks in Fiji are trying to do is to do away with institutionalized racism – that is why they may want to have a electoral system that is not race based, or have a affirmative action programmes that have more to do with need than race, that our constitution is not racist.”
    If you think that sme folks want something, why don’t you give them the opportunity to vote on it. Are you afraid of something? It is a racist mentality that thinks some people have the right to decide for others when they have no mandate whatsoever. Chiefs are installed by the People. Government leaders are elected by the People. The People did not appointed or install Voreqe. He has misused and abused the power that was entrusted to him in making him military commander.

  15. Willy Says:

    It will take five years to write the degree that changes the election rules and make sure that the system is free of racism . By 2014, FB will have realised that he still cannot get elected and then the deadline will be moved to 2020. After that, who knows.

  16. hossanah Says:

    Nostra, rightly said.. I can still hear ‘Kabitni Malichi’ [Kaiviti vakasisila/Yucky natives]a fave Indo-F slur on natives. usually it is made within our earshot too. Correct too the half-caste label on Frank, Epeli N and their half-caste wives..all have hidden behind the cloak of their purported indigenousness…and have done nothing but bring our people disrepute and shame. Mostly because they do not have the full makings of plus detachment from authentic indigenous principles. Greed and aristocratic rubbish are not native!! We are communal and hold corporate responsibility over our people including in poverty and on so little. So in God’s perfect plan we will survive without FB and you greedy lot of Senacherrib!!!

  17. Budhau Says:

    Nostra – those people had an opportunity to vote – remember 1987 and 2000 – what happened back then. And those two elections since 2000, some believe that the playing field was not level and that SDL may have played with the ballot boxes – at least in in some marginal seats – Naisoro and Chaudary seem to feel that way – but of course no one can get enough evidence to prove it in a court of law.

    I am all for voting – so as soon as they get a new constitution in place, we will have a vote – so the only disagreement we may have is how soon do you think they can put a constitution and the new electoral system in place.

    I totally agree that “it is a racist mentality that some people have the right to decide for others.” – specially it that decision making is race based. That is why I do not understand why the 14 GCC appointed senators should have balance of power in the Senate when I did not have a say in their election. That is why I cannot understand why we have a President that I did not have a say in electing. That is why I don’t understand what some small group of people in Lau, with say 5K population can elect one representative and some folks from Ba, say with 20K population can also only have one representative – that dilutes the Ba folks vote.

    So you see Nostra – why some folks are complaining. I totally agree that when they pull are coup, they have misused their power – the question now is how do we get out of this and maybe work towards preventing another coup in future.

    BTW – I don’t understand why Fijians should be worried about things not being race-based, their numbers are now at 57% and going up – no one is going to dominate them. With the proposed electoral changes, I would still expect to see 60% Fijians in the House of Representative, the Senate, a Fijian president – however, I will have some say in who that Fijian may be. That is the problem, I may not necessarily vote in the the SDL type crowd and that is what the Fijian elite and some chiefs are worried about. The civil service being 60% Fijian and who knows maybe some day there would be a racial balance in the military too – unless we get rid of the military.

    This coup culture was not started by Bainimarama – lets hope it ends here.

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  19. Jean d'Ark Says:

    I remember talking to someone who had gone as part of a Government trade delegation to China a few years ago.

    As part of an official Government nominated delegation, the Chinese really feted them, and put on an overwhelming reception.

    But the thing the guy was really impressed with above all that, (and he was a Fijian) was what he described as the incredibly cultured “vakaturaga” way in which the high ranking Chinese officials conducted themselves. He noted that it felt a bit shameful to to be out-vakaturaga’ed by people who were not even Fijian.

    We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking of PRCs as faceless communist apparatchiks. And it is easily to get dismayed over the realpolitik of Tibet.

    But apparently there is a real and strong culture of manners, protocol and gentlemenliness in the upper echelons of the party.

    In light of this story of “guising”, it is not surprising in this light since those are not the kind of people who would naturally react well to uncouth Gangstas like Frank. At least not if they don’t have to, anyway.

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  21. Budhau Says:

    Hey Jean, I like this one – would look really good in some Junior College Cultural Anthropology class.

    I like how you make the case about the Chinese not dealing with dealing with “uncouth Gangstas like Frank”.

    I wonder how those guys like Omar Hassan al-Bashir, or the goons from Rangoon got around this “vakaturaga”, “culture of manners, protocol and gentlemenliness in the upper echelons of the party”. How does our uncultured Bainimarama compare with these guys.

  22. Jean d'Ark Says:


    I guess that’s where the statement of “if they didn’t have to” comes in.

    Burma and Sudan are of course much worse than Frank. But they have resources China wants. We don’t.

    And as our economy continues to tank under our Keystone Kops, the Chinese must even be having some doubts about our ability to repay their soft loans.

    Finally, those other guys are probably much smarter than Frank (not hard), which is something you’d have to admire even if you didn’t like them.

    (Something like your boy MPC – morally distasteful, but manipulatively brilliant)

  23. Budhau Says:

    Jean, you had earlier wrote about the Chinese, “But apparently there is a real and strong culture of manners, protocol and gentlemenliness in the upper echelons of the party.

    Now you are saying these same gentlemen types woudl be ready to deal with things if “they have resources China wants. We don’t.”

    Could it be that the Chinese may see something in this relationship that you don’t – otherwise how would you explain a $US 1 million in Chinese aid in 2005, to $US23 million in 2006 and after the coup in 2006 to $US160 million.

    The point is not how smart those other guys are or how dumb Frank is – the point is how smart those Chinese are – I am sure thay have figured out those boys from Rangoon as well as Frank.

    China’s aid to Frank is not to help Frank – it is what is in the best interest of the Chinese.

    So your “vakaturaga” theory was a load of crap – you know it. Those Chinese, Americans and the rest they are all looking out for their own interest – Frank does not have to convince what is in the best interest of the Chinese.

    So you think Chaudary is morally distasteful but manipulatively brilliant, while I think Chaudary is GOD – not that we have made our positions clearly – can we move on. Or was that remark meant to be offensive – if it was, it missed it mark – may I should insult some of your idiot, thieving, screwing around Ratus who were impressed with the free food that the Chinese came up with.
    Hey, that feels good – maybe we cut out the discussion – these insults feel much better.

  24. Jean d'Ark Says:

    No – I just meant that just because you don’t like someone, doesn’t mean they are all bad.

    Nobody can doubt Mahen’s undoubted talents, its just a pity there is so little character there to guide them.

    Meanwhile, Fiji’s windfall from China is mostly soft loans, not aid. But even if it were, it is growth, not aid, that underpins economic forward progress.

    So even if China were interested in bankrolling Frank carte blanche (which they aren’t), it wouldn’t make much difference. As the Clinton campaign team of 92 kept reminding themselves, “Its the economy, stupid”!

  25. Budhau Says:

    Jean – you have made several arguments on this China subject. You thought China doesn’t have that much to gain from Fiji, so Fiji should not expect that much from China.

    You made that real lame argument that Chinese are cultured people and would not deal with our dumbass Frank.

    And when I pointed out that the Chinese aid to Fiji, while it went from $1 million in 2005 to $160 million in 2007, that it only soft loans and not aid.

    First of all we do not know how much China is giving to Fiji – one thing is for sure, that after A/NZ put the screws on Fiji, that pushed Fiji further into the arms of China.

    As for our economy – guess what it would be like if China had not stepped in . There are things in the news that we all know about – that US $70 million loan to FEA for the Nadarivatu hydro, that Navuso Linking Bridge, Somosomo Mini Hydro an numerous other projects and Economic and technical cooperation.

    When Chinese VP was in Fiji earlier this year, he met with Iloilo and Bainimarama.

    So you see Jean – A/NZ made a wrong move when they bullied the Islanders into kicking Fiji out of the Forum.

    Now you will see what the Chinese do with this forum suspension – and the game has already began.

    The Melanesian Spearhead Group is all with China – all those countries have diplomatic relations with China, China built their secretariat in Port Villa, and the Chinese pay for their Director General. (Guess who is making all the noise about the suspension)

    Melanesian countries make up 85% of all Island people.
    Last year the MSG director general had to go public and state that there was “no truth in recent speculation that the group might pull out of the Pacific Islands Forum”. – that was last year.

    You saw Bainimarama hanging out with the Indonesians this week – what was all that about– PAPUA. You see the Melanesian connection. All of this is going to play out.

    So you get my point – by isolating Frank, they have pushed in the arms of the Chinese – Let the games begin.

  26. Jean d'Ark Says:


    What arms? I can’t see any arms? I haven’t heard any announcements.

    You should have paid attention to the Exiles thread where Jack was complaining about how Adolph bungled the diplomatic aspects of the China aid by using it as open propaganda in the Forum and the media. Big loss of face there for both.

    Meanwhile, if you know so much then tell us when (exact date) we are going to hear the next announcement of aid or project money out of China.

    And while you’re at it, pry tell us which, if any, of these aid moneys would not also have been available to a legitimate Fiji Government?

  27. Budhau Says:

    Chinese money available to legitimate Fiji government – $1 million in 2005, 23 million in 2006 – no compare that with $160 million in 2007 to the illegits.

    The point here is that China has an interest in Fiji, Fiji had been closer to the US/ANZ – we can go back all the way to the good old Mara days.

    When China saw an opportunity to move in, it did. Of course China would have given aid to Fiji under any government – that is not the point.

    Those “open arms” and “arms length” – thats what you were talking about.

    Here is my announcement about the Chinese.
    Since it is in both the Chinese and the Fiji regime’s interest to keep aid information hush-hush, and since unlike other countries, China does not disclose it foreign aid numbers – I guess it is for you and I to figure out.

    I am sure Aiyaaz will deny the claim that there has been any increase in Chinese aid…. the the Chinese, they won’t say either.

    As for the diplomatic aspects of the China aid – One thing is for sure that if things implode in Fiji – we will have A/NZ moving in to provide security – maybe that is what they want…and China’s aid will be back to the pre-coup days.

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