New Zealand to boost Pacific aid money as China’s influence grows

Vastavam web: New Zealand announced today that it plans to significantly boost the amount of aid money it spends in the South Pacific, at a time that international concern is rising about China’s growing influence in the region.Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the government plans to spend an extra 714 million New Zealand dollars (USD 500 million) over four years in international aid, with most of it directed at the Pacific. He said the so-called “Pacific reset” would make New Zealand safer and more prosperous.

Peters did not specifically mention China in his speech, although he did say the South Pacific region had become an increasingly contested strategic space and that New Zealand had its eyes “wide open” to such trends.Peters’ announcement came ahead of next week’s unveiling of the government’s annual budget, where the aid increases will be included. The budget will still need to be approved in a parliamentary vote.

Peters didn’t specify where the aid money would go, although he highlighted climate change as a priority, saying that it posed an existential threat to some island states.The extra spending would amount to a 30 percent increase in New Zealand’s international aid budget. Peters also announced a planned increase in spending on global diplomatic efforts, including re-opening an embassy in Sweden and adding 50 foreign policy staffers around the world.