Opinion

Analysis: Rabuka Changes His Tune Over His Foreign Policy On China

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka appears to have changed his tune on his foreign policy on China. From his pro-Chinese position between 1987 when he staged the country’s two military coups
21 Jun 2018 11:11
Analysis: Rabuka Changes His Tune Over His Foreign Policy On China

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka appears to have changed his tune on his foreign policy on China.

From his pro-Chinese position between 1987 when he staged the country’s two military coups to 1995, Mr Rabuka is now singing from a different songbook.

In an interview with CBS News Television programme 60 Minutes, the channel said Mr Rabuka was angered by the growing Chinese influence in Fiji.

“If they become so powerful and we become impotent as far as that repayment is concerned,” Mr Rabuka said.

“There is a fear that they will take over some of the public facilities we have, our ports and airports.”

“It’s happening around the world.” He was echoing similar sentiments in the region.

But after his coups in 1987, his government invited Chinese business migrants to come to Fiji and fill the void left by Indo-Fijian professionals and entrepreneurs who had fled the country.

It was estimated that Indo-Fijians made up most of the more than 24,000 Fijians who left the country fearing persecution.

In a bid to fill the vacuum, the Rabuka Cabinet in 1995 approved a proposal to allow up to 7000 Chinese businessmen and their families from Hong Kong to migrate here, provided they pay an application fee of $30,000 and invest at least $100,000 in government approved projects.

The then Government said the programme would bring in up to $2.5 billion in investment and create some 80,000 jobs.

Jai Ram Reddy, the then leader of the National Federation Party, said he would demand a thorough debate on the scheme in the next session of Parliament.

He drew parallels to the Indian indentured labourer system. He said then that Indo-Fijians were still struggling for justice and equality. Yet the Government wanted to bring in thousands of Chinese, he said.

Professor Vijay Naidu even said then that there would be social upheaval. The late Josevata Kamikamica, who headed the indigenous Fijian Association Party called the scheme “the sale of our birthright.”

But despite the opposition, the Rabuka government proceeded with the scheme. At the time 900 work permits had been issued to Chinese nationals since 1987.

It is hypocritical that today Mr Rabuka is hostile towards the Chinese Government which has been one of the country’s prominent development partners.

When most of these partners deserted Fiji after the events of 2006, China stuck with Fiji and became a very close ally.

That relationship is even stronger today.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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