|The original version of this photo, of West Papuan nambas (traditional penis gourds), which was published |
in the weekend edition of the family newspaper Vanuatu Daily Post and then by Asia Pacific Report,
was deemed to have breached Facebook's "community standards". The photo was by award-winning
photojournalist Ben Bohane, who lives in Vanuatu.
BRIEFING: By Ben Bohane in Port Vila
China … China … China …
All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully see past the elephant in the room.
Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years is not China but Indonesia, which through its “look east” policy has deliberately paralysed the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) while financing local MPs and political parties across the Pacific to try and stop snowballing regional support for West Papuan independence.
Indonesia already has Peter O’Neill onside in PNG, and Voreqe Bainimarama in Fiji, and is busy trying to neutralise Vanuatu, the Solomons and FLNKS (Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front) leaders in New Caledonia, who are resisting Indonesian influence.
READ MORE: The Vanuatu Daily Post and the photo censored by Facebook
The reason Vanuatu and other Melanesian nations may be turning to China is because they are more worried about Indonesia, which has directly threatened Vanuatu over its strong diplomatic support for the West Papuans.