Australian media report China proposes military base in South Pacific

China's President Xi Jinping

Australian media report China proposes military base in South Pacific

He told the Australian Broadcasting Corp: "No one in the Vanuatu Government has ever talked about a Chinese military base in Vanuatu of any sort". Vanuatu is located about 1,200 miles from Australia.

Vanuatu government spokesman Hilaire Bule said there were no plans to host a Chinese base in his nation of 280,000 people, which has received large sums of infrastructure finance from China in recent years. Chen Ke, a spokesman for the ambassador to Vanuatu, also explained that China's presence in the Pacific was purely for humanitarian purposes and also spoke about a planned disaster response exercise between New Zealand, Vanuatu and China.

Ms Bishop used a trip to Papua New Guinea and Tonga last month to remind Pacific nations that Australia's neighbours are its biggest beneficiaries of aid.

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.

This arrangement could then be built on, it added, with intelligence and security figures in Australia, New Zealand and the United States becoming increasingly anxious about China's growing influence.

According to him, Vanuatu is a non-aligned country and is not interested in militarisation or hosting any sort of military base.

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

"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.

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Defence experts said a military base on Vanuatu, which would likely be followed by bases elsewhere, would allow the PLA to challenge the US's post-war dominance of the Pacific, which is strongly supported by Australia and has been seen as a cornerstone of Australia's security.

McClay said the U.S. 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.

"We have very good relations with Vanuatu and I remain confident that Australia is Vanuatu's strategic partner of choice", Australia Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a radio interview Tuesday after being asked about the report.

"What those countries are looking to us and other nations for is investment in economic infrastructure and social infrastructure".

He also told the ABC on Tuesday there had been no preliminary discussions with China.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the reports had not yet been confirmed, and she could not discuss the details of any official briefings. 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.

"If you put it on a scale of who's respected the most, we'd be right up there, we've gotta do more to maintain that respect, and build even greater respect in the Pacific".

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