Friday, 17 August, 2018

China denies reports of establishing permanent military presence in Pacific island Vanuatu

T080203Z_2083645772_RC11442B4840_RTRMADP_3_CHINA-MILITARY-940x580 Vanuatu and China deny holding military base talks
Faye Gross | 10 April, 2018, 19:58

"For the first time since the 1940s, a foreign power with the potential to put Australian interests at risk would have a military presence in the South Pacific", he said.

Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16.

Australia and the US have been closely watching China's moves and have conducted high-level talks over the possibility of a Chinese military outpost in such close proximity to Australia, the report said.

Beijing last week announced it would pay for and build a new official house for the Vanuatu president, a new Finance Ministry building and an extension on the Foreign Ministry building at a reported total cost of about AUD$36 million (US$27 million).

China has also become increasingly active in the South Pacific, undertaking several infrastructure projects and providing aid and financing to small, developing island nations in the region.

If China were to build a base in the South Pacific, it would be only the second after the recent establishment of a logistics facility in the worldwide Indian Ocean port of Djibouti.

Bishop told the ABC she remained "confident that Australia is Vanuatu's strategic partner of choice".

The statement came after a report suggested that Beijing was pushing the proposal, sparking concern in Australia and New Zealand.

While China is already said to be in talks with Pakistan to acquire the latter's military base near the Chabahar port in Iran, it looks like Beijing also wants to spread its wings in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

Hungary's Orban expected to be returned on anti-immigrant platform
The leader of Hungary's right-wing nationalist Jobbik party says he expects a "surprise" result in the parliamentary elections. Such an outcome would allow Orbán to pursue radical change, perhaps tightening his grip Hungary in the same vein as Poland.


"The maintenance of peace and stability in the Pacific is of utmost importance to us", Mr Turnbull told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday.

"But I'm very openly expressing now, and would do either privately or publicly, that we take a strong position in the Pacific against militarization", she said.

McClay said the United States had military research bases in the Pacific, which had been there since World War II, but no-one would want to see more countries moving military bases, or weapons, into the Pacific.

National leader Simon Bridges said it's not necessarily wrong when other countries invest in others' infrastructure.

Smith noted that Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai had visited China twice since being elected in 2016 but had yet to visit Australia, "partly because of him not being given priority on the Australian side".

Chinese money has already helped finance a new wharf on the north island of Espiritu Santo, alongside an upgrade to the global airport.

"It would allow them to have some forces positioned behind the U.S. base in Guam and would allow China to monitor and patrol the South Pacific Ocean".

Currently, China has only one military base in a foreign country, located in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, but has been increasing its presence in the Pacific, especially in the South China Sea.

Zack Cooper, a former White House and Pentagon official now at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said he had expected China to establish bases in the Pacific and predicted more to follow.

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