- Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his Tuvalu counterpart Kausea Natano announced on the sidelines of a regional meeting in the Cook Islands on Friday the signing of a pact to stimulate migration while providing a security guarantee for the Pacific Island nation to respond to security challenges and natural disasters.1
- Acknowledging the vulnerability of Tuvalu to rising sea levels, Australia has pledged to assist its little more than 11K population to stay 'in their homes with safety and dignity' and will offer permanent residency to up to 280 Tuvaluans annually.2
- As part of the deal, the Pacific nation will need approval from Australia to enter into any agreements related to defense, police, port, telecommunications, energy, or cybersecurity with any other state or entity.3
- The treaty is officially known as the Falepili Union — Tuvaluan for good neighborliness, care, and mutual respect — and includes an Australia-funded $16.9M initiative to expand the landmass on Tuvalu's main island.4
- This deal, which could be replicated in other low-lying small Pacific nations, comes as Australia has sought to counter the growing influence of the PRC in the region. Last year, Beijing struck an agreement with the Solomon Islands that may lead to a larger Chinese security and military presence there.5
- Tuvalu is one of the few Pacific countries that diplomatically recognizes the self-ruling island of Taiwan, with Natano stating that his country had recently declined a Chinese approach to switch recognition from Taiwan to Beijing.6
- Anti-China narrative, as provided by The sydney morning herald. This is a historic agreement for both the Pacific microstate of Tuvalu and Australia. On one hand, it will allow Tuvaluans to migrate gradually and with dignity, as the country is at risk of disappearing due to climate change. On the other hand, this three-part integration initiative marks a significant victory for Canberra in its efforts to keep Beijing at bay in the region.
- Pro-China narrative, as provided by Global times. Australia has long been the bully in the South Pacific, acting as the manager of the US in what they perceive as the country's backyard and treating island nations as vassal states with a colonialist mentality. This treaty with Tuvalu is just the latest attempt to protect its hegemonic system while China seeks to ramp up cooperation and economic exchanges in that region.