Special: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus
By planting Australian consultants in Papua New Guinea to manipulate local epidemic prevention policies targeting China, obstructing the authorizing of Chinese vaccines’ emergency use, threatening senior officials from welcoming Chinese vaccines, Australia has been found sabotaging and disturbing Pacific Island nations’ cooperation with China on vaccines and anti-virus measures, with experts criticizing Australia’s actions as hurting people’s interest in the Pacific Island countries out of a pure Cold War mentality.
The Global Times has learned exclusively from sources that Australia has been racking its brain to undermine China’s vaccine cooperation with Pacific Island countries. For example, it has planted several “consultants” in the national epidemic prevention center in Papua New Guinea and manipulated the country’s policies in the fight against COVID-19. Under Australia’s colonial-style dominance, some of Papua New Guinea’s new prevention policies target Chinese.
Despite that China has effectively controlled the epidemic domestically, PNG still lists China as “high risk” and requests foreigners arriving from in the country to wear electric location finders with high charges. But the fact is that currently, only Chinese travel to PNG to resume work in the country’s projects.
As for China’s supply of vaccines to Papua New Guinea, Australia has also proactively tried to set up hurdles to block the authorization for emergency use of Chinese vaccines. In February, China announced it would offer vaccines to Papua New Guinea and also provided the trails data on the vaccines, but with Australia working in the shadows, Papua New Guinea’s epidemic prevention center did not approve the emergency use of Chinese vaccines until the end of May, when Australia provided vaccines had already arrived in the country.
Sources also told the Global Times that when the Chinese vaccines arrived in Papua New Guinea, the country’s president had planned to welcome them at the airport, but he was blocked by Australia, which also threatened Papua New Guinea’s officials by saying that if they would welcome the Chinese vaccines, they must bear the consequence of Australia ceasing investment in the country’s road projects.
Australia has closely followed the US and a small group of Western countries to hype the issue of tracing virus origins, attacking and smearing China’s vaccines and groundlessly accusing China of expanding its influence by donating vaccines to developing nations.
But the reality is that Australia is actually pushing for political influence in the name of anti-virus cooperation, with the purpose of spreading Australia’s vaccines throughout Pacific Island countries and showcasing its influence in the area.
In March, Australia offered 8,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine sent via military helicopters, becoming the first foreign aid of vaccine to Papua New Guinea.
If Pacific Island states choose China’s vaccines in the fight against the virus, it means the economic recovery of these countries in the post-COVID-19 era would be boosted with China’s leadership, and would demean Australia’s reputation and influence in the area, according to Australian think tank, Lowy Institute.
Regarding the South Pacific as its own backyard and sphere of influence, Australia has taken a hostile attitude against China for China’s cooperation with countries in this area, although China has expressed its willingness to also work with Australia. Chen Hong, a professor and director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University, criticized Australia for its “colonialism mentality.”
Australia has a clear Cold War mentality and is sabotaging China’s cooperation with Pacific Island countries at the cost of the people’s health, said Chen, noting that weaponizing the anti-virus fight for political purposes is shameful.
Chen said that instead of increasing its influence in the area, Australia’s moves would actually damage its reputation as its malicious purposes have been fully exposed and witnessed by the international community.
Chen also noted that the vaccines that Australia has offered to Papua New Guinea are restricted to be used only among citizens above 60 years old, with their safety for other groups being questioned by scientists. Under this scenario, Australia is “dumping” its stock-piled, unsafe vaccines to other counties in its pacific playground.