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Graham Perry
Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.


The FT reports that the US has signed a fishing agreement with a group of Pacific islands that will help strengthen US presence in the region. Vice-President Kamala Harris appeared by video link at the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva on 13 July 2022 as part of a renewed US diplomatic push into the region as well as $60mn a year of new aid, fishing and development measures. She also called for unity in the Pacific islands with tensions running high following the decision by the Solomon Islands to sign a security pact with China in April. “At a time when we see bad actors seeking to undermine the rules-based order, we must stand united,” Harris said, in what delegates understood as a pointed reference to China.

Significant language used by V-P Harris – first the reference to “bad actors” and, second the reference to ”the rules-based order”? – a term increasingly used by the US. Actually, there is no “rules-based order – there is only the law – the law of each country or the law chosen by each country to conduct its operations. The constant reference to “rules-based order” is politically inspired to give the impression that the World has an agreed a set of rules and China constantly breaks them.

Well, No. Scholars, academics and politicians always prioritise the law because the law has history, is well known and understood by nations. The US knows that focusing on the law leads them into trouble so better to make up the rules as they go along – hence “the rules-based order.

The other reference is to “bad actors” and, according to the US, China is on its own as a bad actor. Actually, China has made big strides in the South Pacific and the recent visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wan Li to 7 nations in the South Pacific underlines the extent to which China is on the front foot + being well received by the S Pacific nations. It is also noteworthy that V-P Harris was content to participate from Washington by video-link.

NEXT POST – 15 JULY 2022

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