For more than a decade, this tiny island nation has leveraged regional rivalries to drive infrastructure development

Reports this week that Vanuatu was to be the site of a Chinese military base caught most ni-Vanuatu by surprise. Officials with detailed knowledge of relevant matters swore hand on heart they’d never even heard hints of such talk. The minister for foreign affairs, Ralph Regenvanu, questioned the report’s sourcing, telling the Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat radio program: “I’m not very happy about the standard of reporting in the Australia media.”

Chinese embassy officials in Vanuatu declined an interview request, saying: “The report is groundless and not worth any comment at all.”

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Read More Baseless rumours: why talk of a Chinese military installation in Vanuatu misses the point

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