China

Dust devil kills two children and injures 20 people in China

A small whirlwind known as a dust devil tore the inflatable from the ground at a fairground in Yucheng county.

One parent reportedly told local media that she saw children fall from a height of about 20 metres (66ft).

A county government official told the South China Morning Post it was unclear whether "human factors" played a role.

Local authorities said 18 other children and two adults were taken to hospital. One child was in a serious condition while the rest were being treated for minor injuries.

Vanuatu and China to expand cooperation in agriculture, fisheries, livestock

Both said that this initiative will maintain diplomatic relations.

They reviewed cooperation in the key sectors and agreed to expand cooperation in the areas of investment and trade too.

The two ministers held their first ever dialogue recently this week during Minister Han’s visit with his delegation.

Minister Nevu highlighted the status, opportunities and challenges facing the agriculture sector of Vanuatu.

China lobbying Pacific nations over Taiwan issue

The Pacific is Taiwan's last bastion of diplomatic support, with six nations in the region - Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu and Palau - recognizing Taipei rather than Beijing.

Taiwan donates large amounts of aid to these countries, and works hard to cultivate relationships with their political leaders.

But China is intent on prising off Taiwan's remaining allies around the globe.

The ABC reports Pacific officials lobbied by China asked not to be identified because they did not want to damage diplomatic ties with Beijing.

Tonga and Vanuatu join China's Belt and Road

The announcements came on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea last week.

Tonga's memorandum of understanding on Belt and Road was followed by a reprieve of the country's debt payments owed to China.

Lopeti Senituli, a political adviser to Tongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, told Reuters the loan payments had been deferred for five years.

Meanwhile, the Vanuatu Daily Post reports Vanuatu signed seven different MoUs with China earlier this month, including a Belt and Road agreement.

ANG defers Shanghai flights

In a statement, the airline said: “Air Niugini is committed to ensuring the highest quality, on time service to all passengers and will continuously review its business to improve efficiencies.

“Our partners and the airline have invested heavily in setting up operations to achieve our goal of opening the Chinese market to Papua New Guinea. It is our desire to complete this venture at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Political repression in Hong Kong creates passport boon for Vanuatu

Vanuatu's honorary citizenship programme now makes up about 25 percent of total government revenue, bringing in $US16 million ($NZ23.97m) in the first quarter of this year.

Graeme Smith from the Australian National University in Canberra said this was driven by Chinese investors seeking a bolthole in the wake of President Xi Jinping's recent declaration as leader for life.

"The abolition of the term limits I think shifted something in a lot of people's minds and made them worried so that's why there's a huge number of passport sales," Dr Smith said.

NZ advises Pacific countries to ask China for debt forgiveness

The Samoa Observer reports that Winston Peters made the suggestion during an exclusive interview at the recent Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting in Samoa.

Mr Peters said the level of debts that Pacific Island nations owed to the Chinese government should be addressed at the leadership level.

Last week, Tonga Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva cautioned Pacific Island nations to "slow down" asking China for loans.

He referred to the experiences of his own country, which owes the Chinese government $US160 million.

China takes up Australia's former radio space in Pacific

In response to budget cuts, the ABC last year ceased shortwave broadcasting in the Asia-Pacific region ahead of a switch to FM transmission.

Australia-based technology observer Peter Marks told Radio ABC's Tech Headprogramme that since that withdrawal, the space was swiftly being filled.

"Since Radio Australia has dropped off shortwave, many of the exact frequencies we used to use have been now taken over by Chinese stations targetting the Asia Pacific region," he explained.

China says Australia's Pacific debt claim 'ridiculous'

The Sydney Morning Herald reported his comments following remarks by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that the Australian government was concerned some Chinese financing arrangements in the Pacific would undermine the islands' sovereignty.

She said Australia would aim to offer alternatives to Chinese infrastructure development.

Ambassador Cheng Jingye said the idea China wanted to create debt-traps for the Pacific nations was "ridiculous".

China's relationships with Pacific nations were on an equal footing which was mutually beneficial, he said.

Vanuatu police officers to attend national security seminar in China

While addressing the officers today, Commissioner of Police, Albert Nalpini said it is historical for the VPF to send a large number of officers to China.

Nalpini emphasized the need for discipline and urged the officers to be good security ambassadors of Vanuatu on Chinese soil.

The seminar will focus on the international security landscape and the needs of the security area in Vanuatu.

There will be a range of lectures, practical and enterprise visits.