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Six Chinese nationals arrested in Vanuatu - media

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By Alison Bevege

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Authorities in Vanuatu have arrested six Chinese nationals following Chinese complaints they were operating an internet scam from the Pacific island, media reported on Saturday.

Chinese law enforcement officials arrived in Vanuatu shortly before the late Thursday raid in which the six were detained, and helped identify the premises in the capital, Port Vila, from where they were suspected of running the scam, the Vanuatu Daily Post reported.

Reuters was unable to confirm the report or contact Vanuatu police on Saturday. The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some or all of the group are reported to hold dual citizenship in China and Vanuatu.

The arrests come at a time of concern in some quarters about growing Chinese influence in the Pacific.

The United States and its ally, Australia, are particularly wary of Chinese diplomatic and economic inroads in the region.

In April, Vanuatu and China denied media reports that China wanted to build a permanent military base in the island nation.

In May, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the visiting prime minister of Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai, that China was not seeking a sphere of influence in the Pacific.

(Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by David Gregorio)

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