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I think Chinas influence in the Pacific will be bad news in the end. Tonga is over a barrel, they will not be able to stop Chinese workers and influence coming in and eventually could end up like Tibet. Democracy may be a bit dodgy in the Pacific now but China will put an end to it completely.

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Chinas been pouring big coin into the pacific for well over a decade, possibly 2. They are no different than the US or Aussie, or even us to a tiny degree.

 

In the time I spent up there the chinese aren't the ones to worry about.

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30-40 years ago nz, oz + usa were worried about russian influence in tonga

 

over fishing rights

 

tonga successfully played off these concerns to to get others to upgrade their airport, hospital and harbour

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia%E2% ... _relations

 

very little russian influence in tonga today

 

tonga is in a tricky position as the royals want to keep absolute control over as much as they can

 

and the commoners will sort of tolerate this as long as the royals deliver a standard of living not too far below samoa's

 

but as nz, oz + usa want tonga to become more democratic, they place conditions on their aid

 

russia, china etc aren't so picky

 

so tonga has to realpolitik its traditional backers to get things done

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_in_Tonga

 

without a common land border, and historical claims, the people's liberation will not be moving in to tonga as they did tibet

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Tonga and other Pacific islands for that matter, are nothing more than a Football in a Political game between the US and pretty much any other "Superpower". Boil it right down to nitty gritty, Pacific Islands are looked upon as Bases that Countries can use as Defense Platforms. The US is dead scared of China for some reason and even more scared of China having free access out in the Pacific. The best way to gain access to an Island Nation(without declaring War) is by Romancing it with showers of Gifts. The Island of Tonga is in a strategic position(among a few others) and is desperate for Aid and Resources and willing to be "used" to get it.

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The Islands have nothing and most they have or did have has been taken by other nations. Most have no option but to survive on Aid.

 

There are next to no democracies in the Pac Islands. Those that say they are only do it to stop the nagging by stupid people who are trying to impose their will on others, just like Hitler did, from mostly NZ, Aussie and a few further afield. The Chiefs run the Islands, the same Chiefs that tell the supposed elected Govts what they can and can't do.

 

The main reason NZ, Aussie, US, Chine, India and all the rest suck up to the Pac nations is while each one is tiny and hardly about to change the world, they each have a vote that carries the same weight as everyone elses in the UN, Whaling commission and the myriad of other wank tanks around the planet.

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To answer the original question, I flew from Vava'u to Tongatapu on Real Tonga last September to link to an Air NZ flight home after sailing a delivery up.

 

The aircraft was good, service good, only running 20 minutes late - good for island time.

 

Only other option is to take the weekly ship - the one that replaced the ferry that fell apart and sunk a few years ago.

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