China could overtake Australia as biggest donor to Pacific, if it pays up

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi seen with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in February 2017. China is poised to overtake Australia in terms of aid spending in the Pacific region.

(CNN)China could overtake Australia as the biggest donor to Pacific nations, but only if Beijing follows through on its promises of aid and support that are currently billions of dollars short of being realized.

Despite pledging a similar amount of money to Australia, concerns remain over how many Chinese commitments actually translate into reality, and the type of loans extended by Beijing to poorer nations.
According to a new project from Australia's Lowy Institute, a foreign policy think tank, China has pledged around $5.88 billion worth of aid to the Pacific since 2011, less than Australia's $6.72 billion. During the same period, the US committed $1.36 billion in aid to the Pacific.
    The Lowy project was supported by Australian Aid, a government agency.
    While Canberra is still the biggest player in the region, ongoing major spending under Belt and Road -- a colossal trade and investment project spanning 68 countries -- could see Beijing leapfrog it. In Papua New Guinea alone, China has pledged billions of dollars to build roads and other projects, some of which is not reflected in the Lowy data because the deals are in their early stages.