Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Assistant Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. WPR contributor Rachel Cheung wrote the lead story in China Note this week. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week.
There is no end in sight, it seems, to the diplomatic fallout between China and Australia, as both countries race to win new partners in the Asia-Pacific to blunt the impact of their own worsening ties. After China imposed harsh tariffs on many Australian goods, Australia has been eyeing Taiwan as an alternative market for its exports, which is sure to anger Beijing. China, for its part, just sealed a deal with Papua New Guinea to build a $200 million fishing facility right on Australia’s doorstep.
The project is part of the Belt and Road Initiative, the hugely ambitious program by Chinese leader Xi Jinping to invest in infrastructure from Asia to Africa. But the strategic choice to build a fishery on the small island of Daru, just 120 miles north of the Australian mainland, has raised eyebrows, as it will put Chinese vessels dangerously close to Australian waters.