Vanuatu's Parliament Elects New Prime Minister

Photo: Prime Minister's Office of India [via Wikimedia Commons]

The Facts

  • Vanuatu's parliament on Monday elected Sato Kilman as prime minister after a court upheld the no-confidence motion against his predecessor, who had pulled the nation closer to the West amid a tense US-China rivalry in the Pacific Islands.

  • The outgoing leader, Ishmael Kalsakau, was voted out of office on claims that he had jeopardized the country's neutrality by signing a defense pact with Australia, meeting France's Emmanuel Macron, and welcoming American plans to open an embassy in the country.

The Spin

Pro-China narrative

Vanuatu and China share deep bonds, and it only makes sense for the parliament to revolt against the unilateral push towards the US and Western interests. Kilman veered wildly off the upward trajectory Vanuatu was charting in partnership with China in order to cozy up to imperialists and former colonial powers. The people of Vanuatu know better than to fall for their old tricks, and will always have a fair and equitable relationship with the PRC.

Anti-China narrative

The Pacific Islands will be crucial in the fight against aggressive Chinese imperialism, and the West needs to step up its game to fight the influence of China. A heavily indebted Vanuatu has chosen to turn its back on the West for the sake of its stability, and the US and its allies must rise to the challenge. China is exploiting the lack of seriousness of the West about treating the Pacific Islands.

Narrative C

None of the powers with an eye on Oceania — including the US and China — are taking the true security concerns of the Pacific Islands seriously. The region is threatened by severe climate impacts, but Beijing and Washington are more concerned with their own geopolitical interests. The Pacific Island nations are uninterested in being part of an imperial game that ignores their real issues.

Establishment split



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