• Offered by Department of Pacific Affairs
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Pacific Studies
  • Areas of interest Pacific Studies, Asia Pacific Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Graeme Smith
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Spring Session 2024
    See Future Offerings

Over the last two decades the Peoples Republic of China has become a major aid donor, trade partner, and source of investment in the Pacific Islands. This is one of the most significant developments in the region in recent times with implications for the diplomatic priorities of Pacific Islands states as well as the aspirations of ordinary Pacific Islanders. This course looks at the history of China’s rise, the nature of its interests in the region, as well as the response of more established external actors like Australia, New Zealand, and the United States to Beijing’s increased regional influence. This course will examine China’s changing role in the Pacific, with a focus on Pacific and Chinese perspectives. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the People’s Republic of China’s motivations for engaging with the Pacific, with a particular focus on Chinese state and non-state actors involved in aid, investment, migration and diplomacy in the Pacific.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Describe and discuss important aspects of China’s rise as a global power, and the nature of its activities in Oceania.
  2. Examine the impact of China’s increased profile on existing relations of power in the region, particularly traditional Western diplomatic partners like the US, Australia, and New Zealand
  3. Analyse the institutional foundations underlying China’s aid, investment, migration and diplomacy in the Pacific.
  4. Evaluate the implications of China’s rise for the present circumstances and future aspirations of ordinary Pacific islanders.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to think and communicate independently, reflectively and persuasively on the geopolitics of the Pacific.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Research Essay (60) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Podcast script (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Podcast (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


This course comprises some 65 hours of activity over 12 weeks, both interactive/seminar based and independent research. The course comprises a maximum of 3k words of assessment or the equivalent. Please note this is a general guide, averaged over the semester and the final hours ultimately depend on the individual's ability in reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

Not applicable

Preliminary Reading

Peter Cai (2017) Understanding China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Lowy Institute.

William Callahan (2016) China’s “Asia Dream”: The Belt and Road Initiative and the New Regional Order. Asian Journal of Comparative Politics. 1-18.

Rohan Fox and Matthew Dornan (2018) China in the Pacific: Is China engaged in “debt-trap diplomacy”? Dev Policy Blog, 8 November.

Ryan Manuel (2019) Twists in the Belt and Road. China Leadership Monitor. 1-17.

Jessica Marinaccio (2019) Rearticulating Diplomatic Relationships: Contextualizing Tuvalu-Taiwan Relations. The Contemporary Pacific. 31(2), 448-475.

Alice Miller (2018) Valedictory: Analyzing the Chinese Leadership in an Era of Sex, Money, and Power. China Leadership Monitor. 57. 1-17.

Graeme Smith (2013) Beijing’s orphans? New Chinese Investors in Papua New Guinea. Pacific Affairs. 86(2), 327-349.

Graeme Smith and Terence Wesley-Smith (eds.) The China Alternative? Changing Geopolitics in the Pacific (ANU Press, 2020).

Meg Taylor (2015) The Future of the Pacific Islands Forum and the Framework for Pacific Regionalism. In Greg Fry and Sandra Tarte (eds) The New Pacific Diplomacy. ANU Press.

Anote Tong (2015) “Charting its Own Course”: A Paradigm Shift in Pacific Diplomacy. In Greg Fry and Sandra Tarte (eds) The New Pacific Diplomacy. ANU Press

Joseph Torigian (2018) Historical Legacies and Leaders’ Worldviews: Communist Party History and Xi’s Learned (And Unlearned) Lessons. China Perspectives. 1–2: 7–15.

Yu Changsen (2016) The Pacific Islands in China’s Geo-Strategic Thinking. In Michael Powles (ed) China and the Pacific: The View from Oceania. Victoria University Press.

Denghua Zhang and Graeme Smith (2017) China’s foreign aid system: structure, agencies, and identities. Third World Quarterly. 38(10): 2330-2346. Denghua Zhang (2019) Comparing China’s and Taiwan’s Aid to the Pacific. DPA In Brief 2019/20. ANU, Department of Pacific Affairs.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
3 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

3.00 0.06250
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $2220
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $3180
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Spring Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9437 01 Oct 2024 18 Oct 2024 18 Oct 2024 31 Dec 2024 In Person N/A
9459 01 Oct 2024 18 Oct 2024 18 Oct 2024 31 Dec 2024 Online N/A

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