“Since Beijing established diplomatic relations with the Federated States of Micronesia in 1989, it has provided more than$80 million for construction and economic and technical co-operation.
“And while that may not be a huge amount in global terms, it is for these islands, which had a GDP of just US$238 million in 2008, according to the CIA World Factbook. And the influence that is being sought in tandem with the aid is causing concern.”
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an independent island nation consisting of four states – from west to east, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – that are spread across the Western Pacific Ocea.
Together, the states comprise around 607 islands, with a combined land area of approximately 702 km2 (271 sq mi) that cover a longitudinal distance of almost 2,700 km (1,678 mi) just north of the equator.
While the FSM’s total land area is quite small, it occupies more than 2,600,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi) of the Pacific Ocean.
SCMP further reports: “Concern is heightened as Beijing flexes its geo-political muscles in the Western Pacific and backs up its diplomatic claims to vast areas of the South China Sea and the Japanese-held Senkaku archipelago with a growing military presence.
“Part-way between Guam and Hawaii, Beijing is not laying claim to sovereignty over Pohnpei but is aiming to win new friends in the government.”
America’s control of Guam has been the source of its control of the Western Pacific, but I think the US was seriously concerned about how the airport in Pohnpei was going to be used.
SCMP continues: “The islands of Micronesia already serve as a refuelling and trans-shipment hub for Chinese freighters operating in the central Pacific, and similar facilities could theoretically be extended to its fleet of maritime surveillance vessels and, ultimately, its naval units.”
“The community-building efforts extend to increased tourism opportunities from China.
“Private Chinese money is also flowing into Pohnpei, with a beachfront parcel of land to the east of Kolonia earmarked for the island’s first large resort development, including a casino.”Source: SCMP – “China’s ‘friendship’ in the Pacific draws thanks and suspicions”