China–Vanuatu relations

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Vanuatuan-Chinese relations
Map indicating locations of China and Vanuatu



The Republic of Vanuatu and the People's Republic of China (PRC) established official diplomatic relations on March 26, 1982. China established an embassy in Vanuatu in 1989, while Vanuatu established an honorary consulate in China in 1999; it officially became an embassy in 2005.[1] The current Ambassador of China in Vanuatu is Liu Quan.[2] The current Ambassador of Vanuatu in China is former Minister of Finance Willie Jimmy.[3]

The Chinese government officially considers that Vanuatu and China "have made tireless efforts and cooperation endeavors to promote and further strengthen friendship and cooperation for the benefit of [the two countries'] peoples and nations", and that China and Vanuatu "have smooth cooperation in economic, trade, agricultural, tourism, sports and other fields".[1]

For its part, the government of Vanuatu officially considers that "China and Vanuatu have enjoyed a vibrant and long-lasting relationship based on mutual understanding, friendship and genuine cooperation", and that "Vanuatu's relations with China and the adherence to the One-China policy are one of the fundamental pillars of Vanuatu's foreign policy".[4]

In June 2009, Vanuatu's ambassador to China, Willie Jimmy, "call[ed] [...] for China to have a foot firmly planted in the Pacific through Port Vila", a comment which -the Vanuatu Daily Post remarked- "no doubt caused ruffled feathers among other foreign diplomatic partners".[5]


detailed article: Sino-Pacific relations

Oceania is, to the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan), a stage for continuous diplomatic competition. Eight states in Oceania recognise the PRC, and six recognise the ROC. These numbers fluctuate as Pacific Island nations re-evaluate their foreign policies, and occasionally shift diplomatic recognition between Beijing and Taipei. In keeping with the "One China" policy, it is not possible for any country to maintain official diplomatic relations with "both Chinas", and this "either/or" factor has resulted in the PRC and the ROC actively courting diplomatic favours from small Pacific nations.[6][7] In 2003, the People's Republic of China announced it intended to enhance its diplomatic ties with the Pacific Islands Forum, and increase the economic aid package it provided to that organisation. At the same time, PRC delegate Zhou Whenzhong added: "[T]he PIF should refrain from any exchanges of an official nature or dialogue partnership of any form with Taiwan".[8] In 2006, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that the PRC would increase its economic cooperation with Pacific Island States. The PRC would provide more economic aid, abolish tariffs for exports from the Pacific's least developed countries, annul the debt of those countries, distribute free anti-malaria medicines, and provide training for two thousand Pacific Islander government officials and technical staff.[9] Also in 2006, Wen became the first Chinese premier to visit the Pacific islands, which the Taipei Times described as "a longtime diplomatic battleground for China and Taiwan". Similarly, according to Ron Crocombe, Professor of Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific, "There have been more Pacific Islands minister visits to China than to any other country".[10]

Economic relations[edit]

In 2006, Vanuatu signed an economic cooperation agreement with the PRC, whereby the latter was to assist Vanuatu's economic development and remove tariffs on imports from Vanuatu. The PRC also added Vanuatu to its list of approved tourism destinations for Chinese tourists. Vanuatuan trade minister James Bule said his country had also requested China's assistance "in supplying machines so we can establish a plant in Vanuatu to produce bio fuel".[11]

In 2002, the countries' bilateral trade was worth €1.294 million, of which just over €1 million imported by Vanuatu from China, and over €200,000 imported by China from Vanuatu. Vanuatu imports Chinese garments, shoes, textiles, medicines, foods and light industrial products, while China imports Vanuatuan "plants to be used for killing insects and bacteria, as well as buttons and sown timber".[12]

According to the government of Vanuatu, "China is recognized as one of Vanuatu's major development partners".[4]

As of 2018, China reportedly accounts for approximately $220 million of Vanuatu's foreign debts.[13]

Military relations[edit]

According to reporting by Fairfax Media, China and Vanuatu are in negotiations to allow China to open a permanent military base on Vanuatu.[13] China is funding the construction of a new wharf on Espiritu Santo, which Australian government officials believe could be used to host naval vessels.[13] The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu both rebuffed the reporting.[14]

In 2017, China donated fourteen military vehicles to Vanuatu.[13]

Relations in culture and education[edit]

In July 2002, the Hebei Acrobatic Troupe performed in Vanuatu, followed by the Chinese Acrobatic and Folk Orchestra Troupe in June 2007.

Since 2005, the Chinese Central Television has been broadcasting in Vanuatu. Chinese Radio International has been available to Vanuatuan listeners since 2007.[15]

In terms of education, since 1995, China has provided quotas of scholarships for Vanuatuan students to study in China; nine Vanuatuan students were provided with scholarships in the 2007/08 university year. As of 2008, there were two Chinese language teachers, sent by China, in Vanuatu.[15]

Relationship with Taiwan[edit]

From 1982 to 2004, Vanuatu consistently recognised the People's Republic of China. In November 2004, Prime Minister Serge Vohor briefly established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan), before being ousted for that reason in a vote of no confidence the following month.[16][17] Vanuatu has recognised the PRC ever since. Nonetheless, Vohor remained a critic of what he perceived as China's excessive influence on the Vanuatuan government.[16]

Recent developments[edit]

In July 2019, six Chinese nationals, some with Vanuatuan passports, were deported from Vanuatu to China on accusations of internet scamming. The incident drew condemnation from abroad as the individuals were not given the chance to appear before a court and were held for days without charge.[18] In November 2019, expatriate Dan McGarry, who is the media director of the Daily Post newspaper in Vanuatu, was not allowed to return to the country after Prime Minister Charlot Salwai accused him of negatively reporting the country's ties with China.[19][20]


  1. ^ a b "China-Vanuatu Relations", PRC embassy in Vanuatu, June 20, 2008
  2. ^ PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  3. ^ "Minister confirms appointment" Archived 2013-06-23 at the Wayback Machine, Vanuatu Daily Post, May 22, 2009
  4. ^ a b "Message from Minister for Foreign Affairs" Archived 2009-03-07 at the Wayback Machine, ni-Vanuatu embassy in China
  5. ^ "Chinese Club donate Vt1.4m supplies to landslide victims"[permanent dead link], Vanuatu Daily Post], June 23, 2009
  6. ^ "The Pacific Proxy: China vs Taiwan" Archived 2007-11-04 at the Wayback Machine, Graeme Dobell, ABC Radio Australia, February 7, 2007
  7. ^ Young, Audrey (October 19, 2007). "Chequebooks brought out at Pacific forum". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  8. ^ "China announces initiatives to expand ties with PIF member countries", PRC embassy in Papua New Guinea, November 24, 2003
  9. ^ "China offers aid package to Pacific Islands", China Daily, April 5, 2006
  10. ^ "Chinese Premier Wen to visit the Pacific Islands", Taipei Times, April 3, 2006
  11. ^ "Vanuatu looks to China for markets" Archived 2012-02-10 at the Wayback Machine, Vanuatu Daily, April 11, 2006
  12. ^ "Vanuatu-China Relations" Archived 2009-03-07 at the Wayback Machine, Vanuatuan embassy in China
  13. ^ a b c d Wroe, David (April 9, 2018). "China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  14. ^ Agence France-Presse (April 10, 2018). "China, Vanuatu deny military base plan; Beijing calling it 'fake news'". The Straits Times. Vanuatu and China both insisted on Tuesday (Apr 10) that there were no plans for Beijing to open a military base in the Pacific nation after a report suggesting the Asian giant was pushing the proposal sparked concern in Australia and New Zealand.
  15. ^ a b "Briefing of Relations between China and Vanuatu", PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 25, 2008
  16. ^ a b "Chinese influence corrupting government: opposition leader" Archived 2012-02-10 at the Wayback Machine, Vanuatu Daily, March 12, 2006
  17. ^ "Vanuatu scraps deal with Taiwan", BBC, December 16, 2004
  18. ^ "Chinese nationals deported from Vanuatu". Radio New Zealand. 5 July 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Vanuatu Daily Post director has work permit rejected". Radio New Zealand. 8 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  20. ^ Smith, Mackenzie (22 November 2019). "Vanuatu backtracks on 'special profiling' immigration policy". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 22 November 2019.

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