Concerns as China in talks with Vanuatu about South Pacific military base

Concerns as China in talks with Vanuatu about South Pacific military base

Concerns as China in talks with Vanuatu about South Pacific military base

A base less than 2000 kilometres from the Australian coast and 3000km from New Zealand would allow China to project military power into the Pacific Ocean and upend the long-standing strategic balance in the region.

Australia has warned Vanuatu against any moves to allow a greater Chinese military presence in the Pacific nation.

A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Vanuatu, Chen Ke said the idea that China is planning to establish a military base in Vanuatu is "ridiculous" and "impossible".

In Beijing, China's defence ministry said the Fairfax report "completely did not accord with the facts", while a foreign ministry spokesman described it as "fake news".

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

The Fairfax Media report said the preliminary discussions involved an initial access agreement, under which Chinese naval ships would dock to be serviced, refuelled and restocked, and that would eventually lead to a full military base.

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

"I'm not aware of a military offer being made by China to Vanuatu", she told ABC radio on Tuesday, noting the government of Vanuatu had also said there was no such proposal.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had earlier acknowledged heightened Chinese interest in the Pacific.

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

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New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said he would want to know what was happening before responding to China's reported attempts to create a military base in the Pacific.

"If it turns out there are one or more Chinese bases. what it has the ability to do is challenge, and make much more challenging, American access into the region", said Charles Edel, a former adviser to former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry.

Mr Reganvanu, who has just attended the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Baku, said he was not very happy about the standard of reporting in the Australia media.

"The more you invest in the Belt and Road initiative, the more the Chinese are in a position to force your country to align politically in terms of policy", Davis told CNN previous year, referring to China's ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) worldwide development strategy.

China opened its first overseas military base in August in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

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.

The Lowy Institute said China had contributed more than $2.3 billion in aid to the Pacific since 2006.

New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said her country takes "a strong position in the Pacific against militarization". As the reports of a possible Chinese military base in Vanuatu spread in worldwide media, experts also weighed in on the impact of such a base.

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

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