NZ opposes Pacific militarisation says PM as China reportedly eyes Vanuatu base

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"We are not interested in militarisation, we are just not interested in any sort of military base in our country".

There are other signs that Pacific governments are increasingly beholden to Beijing, such as Taiwanese trade offices closing in the region as local governments bow to pressure from the Chinese government, which insists Taiwan is part of mainland China and should not be recognised even tacitly as an independent government.

Chinese forces in the South Pacific could monitor USA missile tests and Australian radars and gain diplomatic influence at the United Nations, he said.

Fairfax, citing unnamed sources, said no formal proposal had yet been made but the prospect of a Chinese military outpost so close to Australia had been discussed at the highest levels in Canberra and Washington.

"I'm not very happy about the standard of reporting in the Australia media", Regenvanu added.

China has diplomatic relationships with eight Pacific island nations - the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

"Militarisation and competition in the region is not something that is conducive to the sort of stable and prosperous region that we want", Senator Wong told the ABC.

Although the Prime Minister hasn't been formally briefed on the matter, on Tuesday morning she was quick to condemn a military presence 3000km from New Zealand.

Any future naval or air base in Vanuatu would "give China a foothold for operations to coerce Australia, outflank the US and its base on USA territory at Guam, and collect intelligence in a regional security crisis", Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, said in a report for the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney.

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We have very good relationships with Vanuatu and I remain confident that Australia is Vanuatu's strategic partner of choice.

The head of the national security college at the Australian National University, Prof Rory Medcalf, said any foreign power establishing a foothold in the South Pacific would represent "a long-term failure of Australian policy".

"The speculation is understandable because whatever projects China sets up overseas now, people will imagine it is going to be a military base, especially since space projects are carried out by the Chinese military".

Ms Bishop said more infrastructure spending was needed in the Pacific but the key question was how it was invested and the terms of that investment. Vanuatu is one of the few countries that steadfastly support Beijing's controversial island-building programme.

"The intelligence implications of the Chinese supplying and operating telcom in the region are great", he said.

"We'd like to know what we're dealing with before we start hypothesising how we would react".

Fairfax Media understands there are senior figures within China's People's Liberation Army who would like to move quickly to establish a proper base on Vanuatu.

One security expert based in the United States told Fairfax that Vanuatu - which is less than 2500 kilometres from Sydney - could provide access for China into the Pacific, as it is now blocked further north by the "island chain" of the Philippines, Japan and Guam.

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