It's as plain as the palm tree on the foreshore that the sleepy Pacific is being awakened and has become the political playground for the rich and infamous.

And if you needed any confirmation of that you only had to be in an audience with the American Vice President Joe Biden when he was here last week. He harped on the same message about how the United States was one of us.

In the same breath he inhaled China, saying that in the many discussions he's had with leaders there he's stated very forthrightly that the United States is a Pacific power, they've always been a pacific power and they're not going anywhere. Biden went further, saying they're going to rebalance their role in the Pacific, which is pretty clear language for the fact that they feel it's been out of kilter.

US Vice-President Joe Biden and his grand-daughters arriving at Auckland Airport. Photo / Getty Images
US Vice-President Joe Biden and his grand-daughters arriving at Auckland Airport. Photo / Getty Images

So it's no coincidence that John Key decided, for no obvious reason, to head off for a meeting with the former Pacific pariah Frank Bainimarama last month. It won't have escaped the Americans' satellite that the Russians have been taking a great deal of interest in Fiji, along with the Chinese, sending a significant shipment of arms there earlier this year and flying in experts, just to make sure they knew how to use them.

And yesterday the Tongan Prime Minister was here and made no apologies for being in hock to the Chinese. The elderly Samuela Pohiva said Tonga won't refuse money from anywhere, describing the debt to China as huge and seemed somewhat baffled by the forty million buck building they'd constructed next to his office in Nuku'alofa.

When he was asked about his recent comment that Tongans should follow China's work habit, he said his hearing apparatus wasn't working too well, and failed to elaborate on the question.

Pohiva was hardly reassuring about the sale of passports in Tonga, including the no-questions-asked diplomatic ones. It's an indication of corruption in the country, he opined, adding that law and order was very weak in his country.

So Chinese wanting to move themselves, and their money around for example, would have little trouble travelling on a diplomatic document.

Next week the Vanuatu Prime Minister's here and ever since that country's ambassador to Beijing Willie Jimmy invited China to have a foot firmly planted in the Pacific through Port Vila, the Chinese have been arriving in droves, taking over most of the retail stores and wholesale outlets in the capital. They're also able to buy citizenship and passports there.

So it's no surprise that Joe Biden declared last week, it's no longer what America can do for New Zealand, it's what they can do with New Zealand. And it seems we're responding.