Vanuatu's Way of Life Threatened Amid Rising Chinese Investment

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Vanuatu has been the focus of Chinese investment in the Pacific for the past decade. Projects include infrastructure, sports arenas, and educational institutions. For locals, this growing Chinese presence is bringing increased anxieties over the future of their nation.

As locally-owned private businesses face stiff competition from Chinese-owned enterprises, and as a massive Chinese-sponsored residential area known as Rainbow City threatens to dwarf surrounding villages, many Ni-Vanuatu worry that they may lose their peaceful and unhurried way of life. In the backdrop of these developments, a recently implemented cash-for-passports scheme that allows foreigners to purchase citizenship has attracted mostly Chinese buyers.

China’s investment in Vanuatu–part of its massive One Belt One Road investment initiative which spans dozens of countries–has raised questions over how the small island nation will repay its debts. In the past when countries have been unable to pay off Chinese loans, they have made other kinds of concessions, such as leasing local ports to the Asian superpower. Now, observers wonder if Vanuatu could be on a similar trajectory.

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