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Australia revamps Pacific strategy as China looms

Sydney: With an eye on China’s growing role in the Pacific, Australia on Thursday announced 3 billion Aus dollar in financial enticements to boost its presence in the region, accompanied by a series of security and political initiatives.
Beijing is piling investment into the Pacific, sending ever more fishing vessels deeper into its waters and reportedly mulling the construction of a military base on Vanuatu.
PM Scott Morrison vowed to take Australia’s engagement “to a new level.” “We want to work with our Pacific Islands partners to build a Pacific region that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically,” Morrison said as he prepares for a major Asian-Pacific summit in Port Moresby next week.
He underscored a series of security, economic and diplomatic initiatives, including the donation of patrol boats and the development of a joint military base in Papua New Guinea.
The centerpiece however is cold hard cash — much sought after by poverty-hit countries in the region — with Morrison announcing a 2 billion Aus dollar fund “to significantly boost Australia’s support for infrastructure development in Pacific countries and Timor-Leste”. (AFP)

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