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Beyond Hong Kong: China censors freedom of expression in the Pacific

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Losing one's freedom of expression and media are as fearful as militarization of the Pacific Islands

China is making a concerted effort to dominate the entire Pacific Basin in many ways. Recently both the nations of Solomon Islands and Kiribati were induced by Beijing to switch allegiance from Taipei.

The military threat of the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Liberation Army Navy in the South China Sea is well-known. Less obvious is the subversion of Pacific island Countries by exploiting corruption in their local governments.

Last month, we here at NOQ Report had the pleasure of introducing you to Dr. Rieko Hayakawa, a renowned Japanese scholar with over 30 years of service to developing nations in the Pacific who fosters Japanese neighborly assistance in this region.

On October 22, we published an article entitled “Heart of darkness of island society” with her assessment of the heinous assassination of a young idealistic American woman in Micronesia.

Today, Dr Hayakawa shares with us her astute analysis of corruption in the south Pacific nation of Vanuatu.

In the first case, a life was terminated prematurely. In today’s report, we look at censorship and persecution of journalists in an attempt to squelch freedom of expression and cover up government corruption.

Americans, who historically pay little attention to our own Pacific frontier need to realize that corruption and bureaucratic misdeeds are not limited to our own governmental institutions inside the DC Beltway. Even on idyllic tropical islands half a world away, the good people of the Pacific want and deserve responsive, representative government and the ability to freely express their views.

What follows is a timely account of how the government of Vanuatu is mistreating Canadian journalist Dan McGarry of the Vanuatu Daily Post at the behest of their Chinese Overlords as Xi Jinping seeks world domination politically as well as militarily.

Losing one’s freedom of expression and media are as fearful as militarization of the Pacific Islands

By Dr. Rieko Hayakawa

The chief editor of the Vanuatu Daily Post, Mr Dan McGarry, a Canadian who has lived in Vanuatu for the last 16 years, was denied the renewal of his work visa from the Vanuatu government. The official government statement is that the media job should be localized and that Mr McGarry did not make efforts to that effect.

McGarry revealed that he was threatened by Vanuatu’s Prime Minister in July as a result of his coverage of law enforcement in Vanuatu deporting six Chinese. Four of these Chinese had been granted Vanuatu citizenship and had Vanuatu passports.

McGarry also reported the coverage of the Vanuatu government’s passport sales business. So far about 4,000 passports have been sold to mainly Chinese, using a very loose checking system where people can buy a passport online. One of the six deportees was on an INTERPOL list.

In general, obtaining a passport, i.e., citizenship, usually involves a long time-consuming process. The very popular sale of Vanuatu passports brings in income that covers a third of the national government’s annual budget. It means this business is and will be a lifeline for this small island nation which has a population of only about 250,000 people spread over 80 islands. Vanuatu obtained their independence in 1980, and plans to graduate from the U.N. Least Developed Country category in 2020.

A few weeks after being rejected for his working visa, McGarry was denied entry into Vanuatu from a business trip to Australia. His Vanuatu family has now been separated from him. This is an infringement of human rights.

What has upset the Vanuatu government?

When the six Chinese (four of whom were citizens of Vanuatu) were deported from Vanuatu and escorted by Chinese police from mainland China, the Vanuatu government did not make any statement on these shady movements. However, in the Japanese SNS, everyone talked about what had happened in Vanuatu. These six Chinese had been promoting the cryptocurrency business PLUSTOKEN in Japan. Therefore, many Japanese customers were talking about these six Chinese in Vanuatu.

In October, a young American lawyer who had been attempting to protect the human rights of children and women was murdered by suspected Yapese on Yap Island in Federated States of Micronesia. Now a Canadian journalist who had tried to support the development of the young country Vanuatu has lost his freedom of expression and is separated from his Vanuatu family.

Both of these incidents are violations of humanity and are to be feared alongside the militalization of the Pacific by China.

BIO

Rieko Hayakawa is working for the Pacific since 1988. She holds a PhD from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Dr. Hayakawa managed the Pacific Islands Fund of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation from 1991 to 2017, made the USPNet as Japanese ODA project, launched the Micronesia Maritime Security Project and submitted many policies related to the Pacific such as Indo-Pacific strategy and maritime security towards Abe administration. She is currently researching the International Ocean Law at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.

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Related References

Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Program

60 Minutes Australia Investigation: Why is China on the Move in the South Pacific?

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