Australia once again displays misplaced pride and prejudice
Criticism of China's Belt and Road projects in Pacific island countries by a high-ranking Australian official once again lays bare the deep running bias against China harbored by some politicians in Australia.
In an interview with The Australian newspaper published on Wednesday, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Australia's minister for international development and the Pacific, accused China of providing loans to Pacific nations on unfavorable terms and constructing "useless buildings" and "roads to nowhere" in the region.
Her irresponsible comments were, as China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, "full of ignorance and prejudice".
Contrary to her claims, China has provided large amounts of foreign assistance to Pacific island countries on the basis of showing respect to the will of their local governments and catering to the development needs of these countries. China’s assistance has been welcomed by these small developing nations as it has greatly helped promote their economic and social development.
Instead of pointing an accusing finger at China, Australia should come up with constructive ideas, if not funds, to address the real concerns of its smaller neighbors.
Australia recorded the biggest decline in aid for the world's poorest people in the OECD's latest rankings, which has affected a wide range of the country's aid programs, including those to its neighbors.
And many Pacific island countries, in recent years, have complained of the bullying of their "bigger brother" as it attempts to dominate the regional agenda.
With scant regard for the truth, Fierravanti-Wells has perpetuated the ill trend of Australian politicians and media trying to smear China's image and manipulate the Cold War-style paranoia still harbored by some Australians toward China.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was quick to jump on Fierravanti-Wells' bandwagon, claiming China's loans "impose onerous debt burdens on regional governments", according to a Sydney Morning Herald report on Thursday.
In doing this, Canberra is once again seeking to stake its claim to be the voice of the Pacific island countries and also demonstrate it’s a reliable ally of the United States.
Yet as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously said, the complex regional situation demands "more integrated policy and fresh ideas".
That as Fierravanti-Wells acknowledged should mean working cooperatively with China.
Instead, Canberra seems intent on doing the opposite.