Canberra: ‘We have failed to pay attention and make efforts for the Pacific sector, which we are a part of. We will have to be prepared to face some criticism for it. However, it would not be the case henceforth, and the previous lapses too would be made up for,’ Senator Anne Ruston confessed to the Australian failure on the Pacific sector. At the same time, Ruston indicated that the ‘Step Up to Pacific’ announced by Australia would be implemented more aggressively. Furthermore, the Australian indications are significant considering the Chinese efforts for domination in the Pacific region.
In the last few months, Australia has consistently taken a stand against China and has expressed displeasure over the interference in the South China Sea and the Pacific. Also, China is continually making efforts to dominate the Pacific region on the strength of its ambitious scheme of ‘One Belt One Road’ for the past few months. Last year, China had reportedly provided financial assistance and loans worth nearly $2 billion to 8 island nations in the Pacific region. Previously, the Australian intelligence services had claimed that China had initiated efforts to build a military base in the state of Vanuatu based in the Pacific.
Both the major countries, the United States and Australia, have taken cognisance of the Chinese activities and have initiated steps to restrain the nation. The United States has increased its military manoeuvres in the Pacific Ocean stressing on marine patrolling. At the same time, the United States has formed the Quad grouping with Australia, India and Japan and the primary objective of the group is to stop the vigorous Chinese activities.
Considering the past events, the Australian confession on ignoring the Pacific region and making amends for the lapses becomes significant. While talking on the subject, the Australian Minister had warned that the Pacific was a part of the Australian sector. ‘The Pacific is our sector and an integral part of us. We have our presence in the region. The security and sovereignty of the region are vital to Australia,’ Anne Ruston clarified.
Ruston has been consistently visiting the Pacific countries, ever since Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the ‘Step Up to Pacific’ scheme last year. While announcing the scheme, Prime Minister Morrison had said that it envisaged the establishment of ‘Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility’ for providing financial assistance to the Pacific countries, appointing additional diplomatic support and creating an independent military unit. Accordingly, Ruston’s visits are ongoing keeping the objectives in view, claimed sources.
Other than Australia, its neighbour New Zealand also has announced to provide individual attention to the Pacific, and both the countries together have indicated initiating joint movements to curb China.