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Indo-Pacific Island States: Vulnerabilities in the Age of Covid

By David Brewster, Dr Richard Herr and Aakriti Bachhawat

Indo-Pacific Island States: Vulnerabilities in the Age of Covid is an ASPI research project being undertaken with the support of the Embassy of Japan in Australia.

The findings and views expressed as part of reports and articles in this project are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views or official positions of the Japanese government.

It focuses on key vulnerabilities of island states in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, including health and other vulnerabilities. The project examines risks to state sovereignty from the management of these vulnerabilities; how Australia, Japan and like-minded states can work with islands states to mitigate the vulnerabilities and risks, and how island states might build resilience with partners.

The project is led by David Brewster, together with Richard Herr and Aakriti Bachhawat.

#4: How the US can build cooperation in the Pacific

As it competes with China for global influence, the United States must build cooperation in the Pacific by reassuring allies and partners across the region that it is committed to backing them. Steven McGann, a former US ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu, says that will require an increase in the resources available to the US military and to diplomatic and civilian agencies. Two pieces of legislation now before Congress will be crucial to that happening, writes McGann.

27 October 2020


#3: Maldives’ economy hit hard by Covid-19 pandemic

The World Bank says the Maldives will be the South Asian nation hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s not surprising, writes political science researcher Rasheeda M. Didi, given that 70% of the country’s GDP flows from tourism. The cancellation of all 26 weekly direct flights from China has had the biggest single impact. On top of that has come the cancellation of flights from India and Italy, two more top tourist markets.

14 October 2020


#2: Will multilateral development banks step up to meet Sri Lanka’s funding gap?

Predictions of closer ties between China and Sri Lanka have intensified since the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna—the party of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa—won a clear victory in the country’s August elections. International relations specialist Dinusha Panditaratne notes that during the Covid-19 pandemic, multilateral development banks (MDBs) like the Asian Development Bank have contributed far less to Sri Lanka than they have to other South Asian countries. That has opened up opportunities for China. However, he says, increased funding from MDBs could reduce the depth of China’s future footprint in Sri Lanka.

21 September 2020


#1: Covid-19 and the rise of digital first responders in the South Pacific

When disaster strikes in small island nations, social media provides desperately needed information. But mixed in with the potentially life-saving official advice often come rumour and misinformation. In the first article in The Strategist’s ‘Island states in the Covid era’ series, Fiji-based communications specialists Roneel Lal and Sunayna Nandini examine how governments and non-government organisations can sift facts from myths to ensure that people receive the information they need to remain healthy in a crisis.

09 September 2020