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China's coronavirus aid to Pacific islands is part of geopolitical game

Beijing is using health care to improve relations in strategically significant area

| Pacific Islands
Chinese military hospital ship the Peace Ark travels on the Pacific Ocean: the ship launched free medical services for the citizens of Vanuatu in July 2018.   © Reuters

Jonathan Pryke and Richard McGregor are fellows at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

When it comes to helping the Pacific islands fight the spread of the coronavirus, China has been quick out of the blocks. In early March, when it was confident that it had tamed the spread of the virus, and new infections were beginning to fall, Beijing convened a video conference with most of the ministers from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to give them advice about how to beat the virus.

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