Australian media stokes fears of Chinese military base in Vanuatu


Australian media stokes fears of Chinese military base in Vanuatu

John Braddock

13 April 2018

The sharpening propaganda war between Washington and its allies Australia and New Zealand on the one hand, and China on the other, has been further fuelled by media reports that Beijing is in talks with Vanuatu to establish a military base in the country. The tiny South Pacific island nation with a population of just 270,000, lies 2,000 kilometres directly east of Australia.

Citing unnamed “intelligence and security” sources, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported on Tuesday that China had approached Vanuatu to build a permanent military facility, describing it as “a globally significant move that could see the rising superpower sail warships on Australia’s doorstep.” At the same time, it admitted that no formal proposals had been put to Vanuatu’s government, but claimed “preliminary discussions” were under way.

The article grossly inflated the extent of Chinese aid and influence and raised concerns about the building of a major new wharf on the island of Espirito Santo. It cited Lowy Institute analyst Jonathan Pryke as saying the wharf had “raised eyebrows in defence, intelligence and diplomatic circles” in Canberra, because, while its stated purpose was to host cruise ships, it could also service naval vessels.

In a separate comment, SMH political editor Peter Hartcher bluntly declared: “Canberra needs to get very serious, very quickly, to counter this move by a master strategist.”

The purpose of these unsubstantiated allegations is to again vilify Beijing and justify the military build-up and preparations for war against China by the US and its allies. The same unnamed intelligence sources were the basis for the government and the media,…

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