China cops in row over island swoop

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 11 Jul 2019

Vanuatu has denied bowing to pressure from Beijing by allowing Chinese police to enter the Pacific island nation and extract six criminal suspects without them facing a local court.

Critics have accused the government of bypassing the law to please China, one of the country's biggest aid donors.

It also comes as Beijing vies for influence in the area with traditional regional powers, including the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

"Under a veil of secrecy, China has convinced Vanuatu to enforce Chinese law within its own borders," wrote the Vanuatu Daily Post newspaper, which broke the story of last week's deportations from the capital, Port Vila.

It said plainclothes police officers from both countries flanked five men and one woman - all reportedly Chinese nationals - as they were escorted onto a chartered plane that then flew to China.

Four of the six reportedly had Vanuatu passports obtained under a scheme allowing wealthy foreigners to get citizenship in return for fees or investments. Internal Affairs Minister Andrew Napuat said there was nothing unusual about the operation.

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