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tinyfav.com April 26, 2018


China proposes military base in South Pacific

10 April 2018, 07:57 | Myrtle Vega

China proposes military base in South Pacific

China has ramped up security along the Xinjiang border to prevent the crossings of militants of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement active in the province

Located off the coast of Australia, Vanuatu is strategically placed for a possible military base especially for China as it flanks Japan and the United States, however, the Foreign Minister of Vanuatu emphasised that it is not interested in any sort of military base. "The government of Vanuatu has said there is no such proposal, but it is a fact that China is engaging in infrastructure investment activities around the world", Bishop told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

The suggestion that China was looking to establish a base in the South Pacific nation, as first reported by Fairfax Media Tuesday, was met with denials from both Vanuatu and Australian government officials.

The small island nation of about 282,000 people sits in the South Pacific, close to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

"At this point, it may be hypothetical", he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had been advised there had been no request from China for Vanuatu to host a base.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday said Vanuatu officials said there had been no formal offer from Beijing, but did not address whether there had been any unofficial talks.

"That will be between those two sovereign nations and I can't comment on the validity of that", she said.

"We would view with great concern the establishment of any foreign military bases in those Pacific island countries and neighbors of ours", Turnbull told reporters.

While far from key shipping lanes and not as important as Indian Ocean ports, Vanuatu would put China close to the coast of Australia, a major USA ally, and give it a presence nearer the US base of Guam beyond the Asian island chains that hem in Beijing.

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"We're not in a war situation or anything near it and yet we have a new aggressive hegemonic power in the region that wants to muscle in and we are in a hard situation because that would normally call on us having a much closer relationship with the United States but that's a nation that now going through the trauma of an erratic and risky president so we have to try and see beyond that and re-establish our links with democratic nations", Professor Hamilton said.

"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.

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

Academic director at Australian National University's National Security College Matthew Sussex said that while it wasn't surprising that China would have an interest in Vanuatu, the threat shouldn't be overstated.

China is also backing an upgrade to the Vanuatu airport.

Vanuatu, around 1,200 miles east of northern Australia, was home to a key US Navy base during the Second World War that helped beat back the Japanese army as it advanced through the Pacific towards Australia.

She didn't have more say, as she had only seen media reports, she said.

Multiple sources told the Sydney Morning Herald Beijing's military ambition in Vanuatu would likely be realised incrementally, possibly beginning with an access agreement that would allow Chinese naval ships to dock routinely and be serviced, refuelled and restocked.



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