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Will a Pacific Island travel bubble give Australia an edge in its rivalry with China?

June 27, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

PORT VILA, VANUATU - DECEMBER 07: An aerial view of Erakor island and the coastline of Port Vila on December 07, 2019 in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Satellite data show sea level has risen about 6mm per year around Vanuatu since 1993, a rate nearly twice the global average, while temperatures have been increasing since 1950. 25 percent of Vanuatu???s 276,000 citizens lost their homes in 2015 when Cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm, devastated the South Pacific archipelago of 83 islands while wiping out two-thirds of its GDP. Scientists have forecast that the strength of South Pacific cyclones will increase because of global warming. Vanuatu???s government is considering suing the world???s major pollution emitters in a radical effort to confront global warming challenges and curb global emissions, to which it is a very small contributor. Last year, the country banned single use plastic bags, styrofoam food containers and drinking straws in an effort to contain pollution and set an example to larger nations. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The picturesque Pacific islands are fast forming into a fault line for geopolitical tensions. As both Canberra and Beijing pour aid into the region, the possibility of a travel bubble between the Pacific Islands and Australia has given the rivalry a new dimension.

Now, as Canberra and Beijing pour aid into the region, the possibility of a travel bubble between the Pacific Islands and Australia has given the rivalry a new dimension.

Chinese health experts have given advice on how to fight the coronavirus over video conferences with their counterparts in the 10 Pacific Island countries sharing diplomatic relations with Beijing.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry denies this, saying China's assistance to Pacific Island countries is "genuine" and does not have "any political attachment. "

Days before the World Health Assembly meeting in May, ministers from 10 Pacific Island nations joined a video conference on Covid-19 convened by China.

China's coronavirus assistance to the Pacific, however, pales in comparison to the financial support provided by Australia.

Australia has also recently announced that it will beam popular domestic television shows like "Neighbours" and "Masterchef" into seven Pacific Island countries -- a move widely seen as a soft power push to counter China's rising influence.

So far, there has been no publicly reported plan between the Pacific Islands and China for a similar travel bubble.

While geopolitics is not the primary motivator for a travel bubble -- rather, the key driver is the urge to get economies back on track, Pryke said -- the lifting of travel restrictions between Australia and the Pacific Islands would secure some geopolitical gains for Canberra and Wellington.

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