We are all going to be thinking more about China for the rest of our lives, for better or for worse. Apart from trade we were most recently startled by the notion that China may be about to build a military base in Vanuatu. Fairfax announced that China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications. A day later we had Chinese military base in Pacific would be of ‘great concern’, Turnbull tells Vanuatu. Followed rapidly by denials by China and Vanuatu, both of which were a bit cranky over the suggestion.
However, China is building a cruise ship terminal near a new international airport it is funding, together with a new official residence for Prime Minister Charlot Salwai as well as other government buildings. Then there was a 1000-seat convention centre, a major sports stadium, and a $14 million school that will be reportedly the biggest education facility in the South Pacific. Early last year, Beijing donated 14 military vehicles to Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is becoming vulnerable to the “debt-trap strategy” that has left a number of countries swimming in debt Continue reading China matters: Vanuatu
As Malcolm Turnbull jetted off to China for the G20 meeting this weekend after the debacle of Labor taking over the House of Representatives, he would have had much to think about in terms of our relations with China. Apart from the South China Sea, there had been knocking back investments such as Ausgrid and the Kidman property. Until the Sam Dastyari incident blew up, paying politicians bills had been business as usual for the Chinese. Now they’ve found “disease-causing bacteria” including E. coli and stahpyloccocuss in milk shipments and have put the whole industry on notice.
The Camperdown Dairy Company say whatever the problem is, it’s not the presence of “disease-causing bacteria”. Such incidents tend to have a different meaning when dealing with the Chinese. Continue reading China on his mind
Indonesia has recalled its ambassador after leaked documents reveal Australia spied on president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, amongst others. Dr Natalegawa:
“It’s impossible for an ambassador in foreign country to do their duty in the midst of an unfortunate situation like this,” he said.
“The summoning of the ambassador is not considered a light step, but it’s a minimum step we can do to consolidate situation, and to show our firm but measured act.”
You have to wonder what the endgame is in this matter. Seasoned foreign affairs commenters seem to think these matters can be managed, everyone knows that everyone spies on everyone else. Behind the scenes all can be settled down and we continue as before.
Well that hasn’t worked so far for the US when Angela Merkel found that her cell phone was not off limits. The issue is still very much alive, though it’s not clear that the US will agree to a legally binding ‘no spy’ agreement.
It seems to me that Indonesia has all the leverage it needs to get whatever it wants, especially as Crikey’s editorial suggests, Abbott is pursuing an asylum seeker-based foreign policy.
Nevertheless the US may not allow us to enter a ‘no-spy’ agreement. Against that, the Chinese are taking an interest.
There’s more at The Guardian and The Conversation. Continue reading Indonesian spying affair