The World

Apr 11, 2018

Both sides reading from their scripts on Chinese aggression in Vanuatu

Hysteria over non-existent Chinese bases in the Pacific is matched in the media by parroting of Beijing talking points by China boosters. Can't we do better than this?

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

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.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

8 thoughts on “Both sides reading from their scripts on Chinese aggression in Vanuatu

  1. Smit

    Why does China need another base in the South Pacific? It has a 99 year lease on Darwin’s port. Let’s see what that leads to.

    1. kyle Hargraves

      Why do the yanks need another base here? Why don’t we see what the current occupancy “leads to”?

  2. zut alors

    I fail to grasp this: the usual Government duds huff & puff about a military base in Vanuatu while not batting an eye over a Chinese company’s 99-year lease of the Port of Darwin.

    1. MJM

      In addition to the Chinese company’s lease of Darwin Port, I am not happy that there are US bases in Australia.
      And if Australia constantly withdraws all aid from the region, it can hardly complain when China steps in to fill the gaps we’ve left. And yes, J Bishop, I am looking at your department.

      1. Norm

        Ah yes, our so-called ‘foreign’ aid*. If our governments keep treating foreign aid as one of the budget items that can be constantly cut to keep the deficit under control (bugger chasing global corporations for a fair share of tax, or worrying about negative gearing, or discounted capital gains, or unsustainable handouts to wealthy retirees), and just keep buggering our South Pacific neighbours, yes, they might start looking elsewhere. Imagine that. I would even suggest Vanuatu crank up the volume.
        * And even when we do spend on ‘foreign’ aid, how much of it actually ends up in the pockets of Australian consultants, companies, bureaucrats etc, rather than at the villageface, making a real difference to the lives of poor people?

  3. graybul

    On this issue PM Turnbull’s declaration “of great concern” is solely confined to manipulating compliant newsrooms to focus upon anything, anyone; so long as they cease focusing upon domestic politics.

  4. kyle Hargraves

    “.. according to Peter Hartcher. “There is nothing between Vanuatu and Queensland bar the Coral Sea” amounts to something of a plagiarism. Take a look at the headline of the Oz when Russia invaded Afghanistan. The headline read “Russians 7,000 miles from Australia” The article didn’t bother to specify the distance to Germany or to the UK. Similar drivel was spewed into Australian towns/cities in 1853. Yep : the Crimea!
    Can’t be too careful.

    In any event : Welcome to the New Colonialism. China has improved the physical infrastructure of any number of 3rd world countries. Of course military bases are going to be “dotted” about where China currently is working with particular countries (duh!); read Sri Lanka, a good deal of Africa and the Pacific. Heads of such governments got
    to the White House, on occasion, for a photograph only.

    If anyone is worried then (1) get military spending to something like 10% of GDP, (2) reintroduce compulsory military training (17-34 years of age; minimum 1 month/year after initial three month training) and (3) fix the tax code. Alternatively : no nothing – including winging.

    Before we all get too carried away (reading this crap) it might be worth taking a breath and contemplating China shopping elsewhere for products otherwise provided by Australia. In the game of chess such is known as a “pin”.

    I also posted a link, recently, (ABC) referencing an increased military presence in Oz by Uncle Sam – or can we only have it one-way.

  5. Coral SeeNQ

    Large, strong ( hulking) buildings are invaluable in cyclone zones. Even in NQ there are shortages of suitable shelters and as we recently saw in the US storms they need more there as well. Perhaps when they have finished building hulking compounds there they could build a few here. I shall wait at the end of the rock pool with my binochs for suspicious looking ships coming across the Coral Sea that might be casing the joint.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details