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The Pacific Islands Forum has revealed a new reality in global geopolitics, Prof Robert Patman says.
The region is now a major centre of geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States.
But the Pacific Islands leaders’ meeting, in Fiji this week, has shown a significant shift in power, the University of Otago foreign affairs specialist told Global Insight.
“We are witnessing... two great powers contesting and competing with each other, influencing a situation that neither of them can control,” Prof Patman says.
Watch full interview
In a globalised world, all players now have a bigger role, he says.
“It won’t just be down to one Super Power or the other. The middle powers, such as Australia, and the smaller players, like New Zealand, also have a role to play, as well as the Pacific Island states themselves.”
Prof Patman also addressed the possibility of considerable division within the region and the new opportunity for Pacific Islands states to get more global attention paid to questions they deem important, including climate change.