Canberra/Beijing: China is making efforts to establish a military base in ‘Vanuatu’, a country in the Pacific Ocean, around 200 km from Australia. The Australian media has made these claims based on the information from the Australian intelligence agencies.
The Australian and the US officials have already discussed the matter, it is said. The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned Vanuatu that Australia will not tolerate such activities in its neighbourhood. The report about the military base has been denied by China and Vanuatu.
The leading Australian daily ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ has published the news about the Chinese movements in Vanuatu. Vanuatu is in the South Pacific region and is known as an Island Nation. The country, a group of 82 tiny islands, has a population of a mere 275,000. There are 8 island nations in the Pacific Ocean nearby Australia. These island nations are believed to have close ties with the United States and Australia.
But since last year, China has been actively trying to increase its influence in the Pacific Ocean region along with the ‘South China Sea’ and the ‘East China Sea’. The United States and Australia have both taken note of these Chinese activities and initiated steps to deter China. The United States has increased its military activities in the Pacific Ocean with a stress on naval patrolling.
Australia has deviated from its previous policy and has clarified that Indo-Pacific region will be the area of influence for Australia. In the white paper published about its foreign policy, Australia has indicated that it has taken note of the increasing Chinese activity in this sector. Australia has also noted that the cooperation and presence of the United States is important to maintain the influence and stability in the Pacific Ocean region. In view of this, the news about Chinese base near Australia, draws attention.
In the month of January, a senior Australian minister had warned about the increased Chinese activity in the Pacific Ocean. ‘China has provided financial aid and loans in the range of $ 2 billion to the 8 island nations. When these loans will be due for repayment, it is neither possible to predict the actions these nations will take at that time nor the consequences,’ Minister for International development, ‘Concetta Fierravanti-Wells’ targeted China for interference in the Pacific region.
It has been observed that the Turnbull government in Australia has consistently taken an aggressive position on the Chinese issue. Prime Minister Turnbull had expressed strong disapproval on the Chinese interference in the Australian politics, education and also the industrial sector. He had even taken resignations from influential leaders of the ruling party over the matter. The book ‘Silent Invasion: Chinese Influence in Australia’ authored by ‘Clive Hamilton’ from the ‘Charles Stuart University’ has become a point of dispute between the two countries. It is claimed that China had exerted pressure to stop publication of this book.