A series of economic and diplomatic clashes between China and Australia has extended to regional vaccine outreach, with the Pacific country of Papua New Guinea becoming the latest flashpoint.
The two rivals have offered pandemic aid to Papua New Guinea, but China recently accused Australia of “vaccine sabotage” there for trying to denigrate and block the use of China’s Sinopharm vaccine. It’s an allegation that points to the increasingly tense geopolitics of the vast Pacific region, where China and Australia are jockeying for influence.
“This is consistent with a pattern that has emerged over the last couple of years,” said Graeme Smith, a fellow at Australian National University’s Department of Pacific Affairs. “Portraying Australia as not on the side of the Pacific is now part of China’s playbook.”
The rivalry has major consequences for the brewing…