China’s Influence in Melanesia: A Conversation with Pete Connolly

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In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, we are joined by Dr. Pete Connolly to discuss China’s activities in the Pacific Islands, specifically Melanesia. Dr. Connolly explains that through his field research, he observed a shift in Chinese engagement in Melanesia between 2017 and 2022, indicating the strategic importance that China attaches to region. He unpacks major Chinese political and economic efforts in Melanesia and argues that they have had a strong impact on the region. Moving forward, Dr. Connolly predicts growing PRC activity and influence in Melanesia.

Pete Connolly is an expert in security, strategy, and international relations with 36 years of experience in the Australian Defence Force and a PhD in international, political, and strategic studies. His dissertation analyzed change in China’s statecraft in the Pacific Islands from 2017 and local responses to it. His analysis connects extensive on-the-ground research in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji with China’s strategic interests. As a military officer he led multidisciplinary teams in planning, analysis, engagement, and research in Defence, the Pentagon, and coalition operations.


Bonny Lin
Director, China Power Project and Senior Fellow, Asian Security