Anne-Marie Schleich

Anne-Marie Schleich

Former German Ambassador to New Zealand

Dr Anne-Marie Schleich started her career with the German Foreign Service in 1979. Most recently, she was the German ambassador to New Zealand with concurrent accreditation to seven Pacific Island states from 2012 to 2016. She was the German consul-general in Melbourne, Australia from 2008 to 2012. Dr Schleich has also served in Singapore, Bangkok, Islamabad and London. From 1998 to 2001 she was the deputy head of the Asia and Pacific Section of the Foreign Affairs Directorate in the Federal Chancery, Berlin. Since her retirement in 2016, she has lived in Singapore. She has been a speaker at international security conferences and a guest lecturer at the National University of Singapore. Dr Schleich has also written a number of articles on geopolitical trends in Asia published in Switzerland, Germany, Singapore and Australia.

From left to right, President of the Marshall Islands David Kabua, Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, US President Joe Biden, Kiribati President Taneti Maamau, Tuvaluan Prime Minister Kausea Natano, and Premier of Niue Dalton Tagelagi stand for a group photo following the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) summit, at the South Portico of the White House in Washington, DC, on 25 September 2023. (Jim Watson/AFP)

Geopolitical tug of war an opportunity for Pacific Island nations

Concerns about a stronger Chinese engagement — following the unexpected security pact between China and the Solomon Islands in 2022 — rattled the US and its regional allies, Australia and New Zealand, into stepping up their engagements with the Pacific Island countries. Not unexpectedly, these island countries now find themselves beneficiaries of the competition for geopolitical influence even as they try to avoid being drawn into it.
Fiji's new prime minister and People's Alliance Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka (centre) leaves after the first sittings of the newly elected parliament in Fiji's capital city Suva on 24 December 2022. (Leon Lord/AFP)

Fiji an important regional power broker as great power politics intensifies in the Pacific

The recent elections in Fiji resulted in the first democratic transition since 2014 after three opposition parties narrowly voted for a pro–Western coalition government with Sitiveni Rabuka as the new prime minister. The election outcome also has geopolitical implications considering the growing US-China confrontation in the Pacific and the renewed US re-engagement in the South Pacific with a focus on Fiji.
An undated handout photo released on 29 March 2022 by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) shows a China Police Liason Team officer (centre) training local RSIPF officers. (Handout/RSIPF/AFP)

China-Solomon Islands security pact: Alarm bells ringing for Australia and New Zealand?

Dr Anne-Marie Schleich, a former German ambassador to New Zealand, explains why Australia and New Zealand are worried about a new security deal inked between China and Solomon Islands. Have they not been paying enough attention to their own backyard?
Traffic moves past apartment buildings in the Clifton area of Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 March 2022. (Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg)

Pakistan, Russia and China: A new tripartite geopolitical centre of gravity in South Asia?

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Moscow during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Pakistan’s abstention in the UN General Assembly vote denouncing the Russian war could be an indication of a policy shift towards a more independent Pakistani foreign policy. Such a development could mean closer Pakistani ties with both China and Russia and the forming of a new geopolitical nexus in South Asia.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) and Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton stand for their national anthems during an honour cordon at the Pentagon on 15 September 2021 in Arlington, Virginia, US. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/AFP)

With AUKUS in place, now what for key players in the Indo-Pacific?

Former German diplomat Dr Anne-Marie Schleich analyses the impact of AUKUS from the perspective of key players in the region. This development sees important ramifications, not only for Australia, which has further thrown in its lot with the US, but for other stakeholders such as the Pacific island countries, who may see their nuclear-free Blue Pacific blueprint thwarted, as well as the European countries, who must decide how they can maintain a strategic presence in the region within the AUKUS framework.
A boy stands with a wheelbarrow at the demolished former compound of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, 10 September 2021. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

Pakistan stands to gain from Afghanistan turmoil?

The recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has strong implications for Pakistan which faces various new challenges such as the influx of Afghan refugees, terror threats from Afghan-based militants and an increased insurgency by Balochistan rebels. China is also getting impatient with the Pakistan security situation as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects have come under threat. But Pakistan also has the opportunity to use its leverage with the Taliban to play a more significant role in regional diplomacy and decision-making, thereby advancing its regional standing.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives for the presentation of the budget at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand on 20 May 2021. (Mark Graham/Bloomberg)

Uniquely New Zealand: How NZ maintains integrity amid great power rivalry

With the US-China strategic competition intensifying, New Zealand navigates these tricky geopolitical waters and pursues its "independent" foreign policy even at the risk of offending its Five Eyes partners. Interestingly, it has been able to uphold its principles when negotiating major power politics.
This file picture taken on 5 September 2018 shows flags from the Pacific Islands countries being displayed in Yaren on the last day of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). (Mike Leyral/AFP)

Power struggles and Chinese influence in the Pacific island region

The Pacific Island Forum (PIF) has undergone some intense internal power struggle recently, and the region is also subjected to rising global geopolitical competition and tension. In fact, the "Taiwan-China conflict is virulent in this region", says former German diplomat Dr Anne-Marie Schleich.