Australia is considering an ambitious sports diplomacy mission to deepen its participation in the South Pacific region as it competes with Beijing for hegemony increasingly fierce.
“Team AusPac” is an initiative recommended to the federal government after an extensive investigation to improve trade and relations with Pacific island countries.
The proposal will see Expansion of existing projects To provide athletes and coaches in the Pacific region with a way to train and work in professional sports.
Recommendations include maximizing the participation of Pacific Islanders in the upcoming Olympic Games in Brisbane in 2032 and paving the way for Pacific Island teams to join the National Rugby League.
The area is a hotbed of top rugby league and rugby league talents in the world.
Ted O’Brien, Fairfax Federal Member and Chairman of the Parliamentary Trade Subcommittee, said: “The affinity shown between Australia and the Pacific island countries goes far beyond our common geography and common geostrategic and economic interests.”
“This may not be the cutting edge of international affairs, but you should never underestimate the importance of civil relations. This is a major advantage of Australia’s relations with Pacific island countries,” he added. “And exercise is one of the key factors.”
By the way, the government announced the news a few days after the Super Rugby League Club Championships held in Australia and New Zealand. Improve its competition Including two teams from the South Pacific, Fijian Drua (representing Fiji) and Moana Pasifika (a composite team representing Samoa, Tonga and small Pacific nations).
Australian Foreign Minister Mary Spean said: “Although the health and safety of our immediate neighbors remain a top priority, sports can help promote the cultural and economic recovery of the region and keep our country in touch.” In the statement.
The latest move builds on the existing Pacific Step-up in the region, and the Australian government has pledged to support infrastructure construction and free broadcast content in the region-the latter competes directly with broadcasters from Beijing Central Television.
Stuart Murray, associate professor of international relations and sports diplomacy at Bond University, welcomed Australia’s sports initiative, saying that the government “finally woke up and smelled coffee.”
“To win the Pacific, you must think innovatively; do what you have done in the past 20 years, and you will not win the Pacific,” he told The Epoch Times. “So, what is our comparative advantage? It is sports, culture, diaspora community, religion, spirituality and nature.”
“These are things that China cannot provide to the Pacific Islands. So, I am really encouraged to see the government finally realize that sports are an important part of our culture and identity. The world sees Australia through sports rather than foreign policy,” he Say.
The South Pacific region has always been the center of the tug of war between the democratic allies and Beijing.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken a number of measures to win the support of Pacific island leaders, including infrastructure construction, vaccine donations and trade through the “Belt and Road” Initiative (BRI).
Pacific countries reacted differently. Some countries accepted the relationship with Beijing, while others rejected it altogether.
The new prime minister of Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, recently pledged to cancel the US$100 million BRI port development project near the country’s capital, saying the project is too large to satisfy the country’s capital. Demand.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times