China proposes military base in South Pacific: Australian media report

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China has approached Vanuatu about building a permanent military presence in the South Pacific in a globally significant move that could see the rising superpower sail warships on Australia's doorstep.

China has been aggressively growing its military and pushing its footprint deeper into the Pacific, forging closer links by showering nations with development money.

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.

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

According to him, Vanuatu is a non-aligned country and is not interested in militarisation or hosting any sort of military base. "We are not interested in militarization, we are just not interested in any sort of military base in our country". The report was later denied by Vanuatu's foreign minister, while China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang described it as "fake news".

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

"That will be between those two sovereign nations and I can't comment on the validity of that".

Ms Bishop said while China was investing in infrastructure around the world, in had to date only established one military base - in Djibouti in northern Africa.

But he has echoed his Prime Minister's statement that New Zealand would be "seriously concerned" about any militarisation of the South Pacific by a superpower.

"But what I can say is that we of course keep a watching eye on activity within the Pacific and that New Zealand is opposed to the militarisation of the Pacific generally".

Cooper said with the United States focused on north Asia, Washington would expect Australia to stop the South Pacific from sliding too deeply into Beijing's hands.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had earlier acknowledged heightened Chinese interest in the Pacific.

"I think there's no question that Australia needs to redouble its efforts to persuade Vanuatu and other Pacific island nations that Australia is and should remain their preferred security partner and development partner".

The Lowy Institute's Pacific islands expert, Jonathan Pryke, says the new Luganville wharf development had "raised eyebrows in defence, intelligence and diplomatic circles" in Australia.

Such a plan would mark an expansion of China's military aspirations beyond its controversial activities in Asia, particularly the South China Sea, where it has been building artificial islands on reefs, some with ports and airstrips.

However, a senior official of the Vanuatu government said that such discussions have never taken place and China isn't planning to build a military base in the island nation.

"We would view with great concern the establishment of any foreign military bases in those Pacific island countries and neighbours of ours", Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Brisbane.

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".

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