Julie Bishop in Porta Vila, Vanuatu.

Despite Fairfax's "China set for Vanuatu military base" yarn falling in a heap, it has doubled down on the hype of a Chinese military threat to Australia. "China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications," was the headline on the original story, though David Wroe's actual piece was far more circumspect -- he reported "preliminary discussions... about a military build-up... no formal proposals have been put to Vanuatu's government, senior security officials believe Beijing’s plans could culminate in a full military base."

Thus the base existed more in the minds of Australian "senior security officials" than in reality.