Sunday 22nd of April 2018

selling chopsticks to the chinese...


A Chinese embassy spokesman has said the idea that China is planning to establish a military base in Vanuatu is “ridiculous”.

Australia’s Fairfax Media reported on Tuesday that China was eyeing a base in the Pacific nation. “That’s impossible,” said Chen Ke, a spokesman for the ambassador to Vanuatu.

A senior Vanuatu government adviser concurred: “That conversation was never on the table.” The adviser claimed detailed knowledge of relevant matters in two key ministries and insisted that the topic was never even hinted at. They went on to suggest that the source of the Fairfax story was not the government of Vanuatu.

Fairfax reported there had been informal discussions between China and Vanuatu, but no formal offer, about a military buildup. China has diplomatic relations with many Pacific nations and is a major backer of development projects in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, told the ABC on Tuesday morning she remained “confident that Australia is Vanuatu’s strategic partner of choice”.

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getting off the teat of kanbra...

In the 1940s Darwin became an important staging point for US sailors fighting in the Pacific; the USS Peary was sunk in Darwin harbour during the Japanese bombing on 19 February 1942, killing 88 Americans on board. The Top End has remained welcoming of American troops, and is now home to more than 1,000 US Marines who rotate through each year.

Adam Giles’s government made little secret of its intention to lease the port of Darwin. But the transaction to a Chinese company sparked a diplomatic incident in late 2015, in particular straining links between Darwin, Canberra and Washington.

For Giles, the lease was a statement of defiance in the face of 14 consecutive denied requests for federal funding to upgrade facilities at the port. “This is about getting off the teat of Canberra, becoming less and less reliant on money from Canberra,” a senior government figure told the NT News at the time to sum up Giles’s motivation for flogging the port to the Landbridge Group. The deal was a good one for the Territory: the price of A$506m was better than expected, it opened the door to significant trade opportunities, and on that basis the NT News was relatively supportive.


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The new Chinese owner of Darwin Port is heavily indebted and has struggled to make interest payments on money borrowed to buy the lease, raising doubts over promises to upgrade the port and fund a new $200 million hotel on a nearby site.

An analysis of the finances of the Landbridge Group and its billionaire founder Ye Cheng shows he does not fit the stereotype of a cashed-up Chinese billionaire with access to cheap funding from state-owned banks.

Rather, Landbridge's local accounts and documents lodged in China show an over-extended company scrambling from one loan repayment to the next and paying up to 12 per cent interest on some borrowings.

The company is equally exposed to refinancing risks in China's volatile debts markets, where it has been forced to scrap four bond issues in the last two years.

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spook's turds to test the turbidity of chinese tea...

What could be more self-serving for our military, spooks & government than a story about about China maybe wanting a Vanuatu wharf? Yes, I have been around long enough to be sceptical about "intelligence" story drops - haven't we all?

Michael Pascoe


 Martin Hirst:

The tell that this was a planted story is in the lack of detail and the vague sourcing:

'The prospect of a Chinese military outpost so close to Australia has been discussed at the highest levels in Canberra and Washington.'

The Vanuatu Government was quick to issue denials and even labelled the Fairfax reports as “fake news”.

Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu said rumours of discussions with China over a military base were false.

"We are a non-aligned country. We are not interested in militarisation, we are just not interested in any sort of military base in our country," Mr Regenvanu told the ABC.

However, David Wroe’s story still had the effect desired by the Australian “security officials” who briefed him. Within hours, PM Turnbull was able to front the media to express Australia’s concern at the – still unproven – rumours.

"We would view with great concern the establishment of any foreign military bases in those Pacific Island countries and neighbours of ours," Turnbull bloviated.

This is an interesting position and an even more puzzling definition of “foreign”. The United States operates more than 20 military bases across the Pacific – from Hawaii to Japan and many ports in between – so why isn’t this alarming to our Prime Minister?

And this is what is really ironic and cynical about Turnbull’s concern: there is – as yet – no Chinese military base in Vanuatu, yet the United States operates permanent military bases throughout the Pacific, including in Australia, Japan (21 bases), Guam and South Korea.


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