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Does the West need to fear China’s presence in the pacific?

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China’s influence in the Pacific is causing concern for some Western nations who are playing a diminished role in the region

Tides are changing in the Pacific, an area which has long deferred to the West, but is increasingly gazing eastward.

The changing dynamic has been typified by the landmark security deal signed by China and the Solomon Islands. This week, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi embarked on an historic 10 day tour of eight Pacific Island nations.

Should Western nations fear China’s growing influence in the Pacific?

The Pacific Islands have a long history of Western influence, dating back hundreds of years to European colonisation.

But nations such as Australia and the U.S. are suddenly having to contend with the arrival of a new player.

Benjamin Herscovitch, a research fellow at the Australia National University, told TICKER NEWS China’s increased influence in the area represents a “dramatic shift in circumstances” for the region.

“We are at the beginning of a really heated up period of competition between Australia and China for influence in the Pacific,” he says.

This will place further pressure on an already strained relationship.

In recent years, the two nations have butted heads over a number of issues including human rights and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Two weeks ago, relations between the two nations flared again. In the lead up to the Australian federal election, then defence minister Peter Dutton labelled the presence of a Chinese spy ship off the coast of Western Australia was “an aggressive act”.

Despite outcry from the West, there is still no evidence China’s intentions in the Pacific have militaristic undercurrents.

Yi has started his tour of the Pacific by promising his government has “no intention” of building a military base in the Solomon Islands.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a ten day tour of the Pacific

What is China’s goal in the Pacific?

While China’s role in the Pacific will likely become a point of contention, Herscovitch doesn’t believe it is coming from a position of Chinese aggression.

Rather, it is the natural progression for a country becoming more influential across the globe.

“A lot of the alarmist commentary in Australia maybe fails to appreciate that we’re coming in this period of rising Chinese influence and power globally,” he says.

“It’s almost to be expected that you’d have Beijing having a much larger footprint in Australia’s region.”

“China is a country with an incredibly large economy, with trading interests that span the globe, with diplomatic and political interests that span the globe.”

Benjamin Herscovitch, ANU

“China’s expanding footprint, expanding influence is just part and parcel of China emerging as the globe’s greatest economic power,” he says.

Will Island nations benefit from competition in the Pacific?

Herscovitch says the dispute could be “a good news story” for island nations because states will compete to invest in the area as a way to build influence in the Pacific.

“We’ll see a lot of competition for investment, a lot of competition for influence between key economies, and that’s probably beneficial for Pacific Island countries,” he says.

Pacific nations also look set to benefit by increased action on climate change.

As some of the most low-lying nations in the world, global warming and rising sea levels are of huge concern to the area.

Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong also visited the Pacific to pledge an improvement in Australia’s climate change policy.

“There’s a sense here in which Australia’s desire for influence will encourage Australia to be more forward leaning, more proactive on climate change issues,” Herscovitch says.

New role for the West in the pacific?

With China beginning to gain a foothold in the Pacific, Herscovitch says the West may have to alter its diplomatic approach.

He believes Australia and U.S. have been overly critical of South Pacific countries, and in particular the Solomon Islands, for engaging with China.

In the backlash following Solomon Islands’ defence treaty with China, the nation’s Prime Minister Mannasseh Sogavare accused the Australian government and its allies of undermining his government.

Herscovitch labels this approach as “counterproductive” to maintaining relations with the Pacific nations, saying “we should always respect their sovereign decisions and respect their independent choices.”

He says Australia, the U.S. and Japan has a highly important role in providing expertise and advise on how to manage their relationship with China as they become more economically entwined with the global power.

“They’re relying on China for more infrastructure, and it’s really important that their officials are empowered with all the necessary information to manage that relationship and to manage that growing dependency,” he says.

Bryan Hoadley contributed to this report

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World

Top travel tips to avoid jet lag

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These travel tips will help you reduce jet lag the next time you travel abroad

 
We all love a holiday but, unfortunately, when you’re travelling long distances it often comes with a side of jet leg.

So what causes it and are there any ways to avoid that drowsy feeling?

After years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, people are finally back in the skies and venturing to destinations right around the world.

The term “jet lag” describes the physical and cognitive symptoms people experience when traveling quickly across several timezones.

Before you leave, you’re synchronised to your local time and once you enter a new timezone, your body’s rhythms are thrown out of whack.

The experience of jet lag varies between people because we all have our own internal rhythm.

Most have a natural daily cycle of about 24.2 hours.

But some people have slightly longer cycles than others, and this could play a role in how a person experiences jet lag.

Research shows if you have a longer cycle you might adjust quicker to westward travel.

We also get a little less resilient as we age, so the older you are, the worse the jet lag may be.

So does the direction of travel matter? Scientists think so.

Many people find westward travel easier. This is when you, essentially, gain time.

But that’s not always possible – so here are some tips to help you through the pain, or even avoid it, in the first place:

1. If you’re trying to shift your body clock, you should start on the plane. Do this by setting your watch to your destination’s timezone and line up your activities, like sleep and meals, accordingly.

2. Next, keep your caffeine and alcohol intake low on the journey to help aid both sleep and hydration.

3. When you arrive, try your absolute best to sleep during the local night time and rest during the day as needed.

4. You can take a nap – but make sure it’s 30 minutes or less.

5. If you’re prone to or experience tummy trouble while traveling, stick to small meals and only eat when you’re hungry.

6. Finally, you should also expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day when adjusting to your new timezone.

Happy travelling! #trending #featured

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World

Young people join protest in France against pension reforms

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Young people are taking to the streets in France as Macron pushes ahead with raising nation’s retirement age

 
Huge crowds have gathered in France in recent weeks to protest a controversial rise in the country’s pension age by two years to 64.

Some of the marches have turned violent.

While the reform is most relevant to those approaching retirement, many young people are also taking to the streets.

But why might that be?

The French youth have joined the protests in growing numbers since the government bypassed parliament to push the plans through.

Every night for the past few weeks, 18-year-old Charles Chauliac has been making his voice heard. Not just for his parents, but for himself.

“I am against this reform simply because I have two parents who are killing themselves at work and damaging their health and I don’t want to see them die at work. My father, he works every day, he gets up to get on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle airport at 5 a.m. to load the planes. I find it difficult to imagine myself at 64 getting up at 3 a.m.”

Chauliac is part of groups started by university students to organize unauthorized demonstrations, which are usually carried out in the evenings.

While a few protesters have been seen torching bins and throwing rocks at police, Chauliac insists he hasn’t.

Opinion polls show a wide majority of voters are opposed to the pension bill.

They are further angered by Macron’s leadership style and the government’s decision to skip the parliamentary vote.

“For young people like me, we grew up with the hope of being able to influence our society. And when we see that decisions are made without consulting the people who make up this society, that takes away the possibility of being able to change things.”

Many students, like Chauliac, have been joining private groups on social media which help students mobilize for spontaneous protests.

He says they help prevent the groups being noticed by police.

But does Chauliac worry about the repercussions, should the demonstrations get out of hand?

“I wonder about that, because I know what can happen to us too, we see the images and we see what happens to fellow protesters, but that wouldn’t prevent me from demonstrating, because I’m so outraged that it surpasses potentially endangering myself.”

Macron recently said he would press ahead with the reforms.

Unions have called for regional action, and the continuation of nationwide strikes and protests. #trending #featured

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Tech

Facial recognition has been used a million times by U.S. police

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Controversial facial recognition has been used a million times by police to help track criminals

 
As facial recognition becomes more prominent, the founder of tech firm Clearview says his company has run nearly a million searches for U.S. police.

It’s also been revealed the company has scraped 30 billion images from platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, taken without users’ permissions.

The company has been fined numerous times in Europe and countries like Australia for breaches of privacy laws.

In the U.S., critics say the use of Clearview by authorities puts everyone into a “police line-up”.

The company’s high-tech system allows law enforcement to upload a photo of a face and find matches in a database comprising of billions of images it has collected.

It then provides links to where matching images appear online.

The tool is considered to be one of the world’s most powerful and accurate.

While the company is banned from selling its services to most U.S. companies, there is an exemption for police. #trending #featured

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