If there was a time to start strategically moving into a position of power, now would be the time to do it and China is seizing the opportunity while the world is distracted by the Ukraine war, to permanently set up near Australia.
China has been forming bonds with nations within the South Pacific, including the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
According to a leaked document from the Daily Mail, the Solomon Island government and China are making a security agreement that would allow the Solomon Islands to “request China to send police, armed police, military personnel and other law enforcement and armed forces to the country. It also permitted Chinese vessels to “make ship visits, carry out logistical replenishment and have stopover and transition [operations] in the Solomon Islands.”
Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, broke diplomatic ties to Taiwan after receiving around $730 million from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The residents of Solomon Islands aren’t happy about this new friendship, however, as they believe the country’s sovereignty is under threat after taking the money from China and political opposition accused the PM of taking money from China for his political campaign.
Hong Kong-based WYW Holding limited – a Chinese-backed firm – submitted a proposal to the government of Papua New Guinea. The proposal is a plan to build a city on the island of Daru which is located only 200 kilometers from Australia’s Cape York peninsula, located in the state of Queensland.
The city would include a seaport, industrial zone and residential areas, also included in the plans is a resort for tourists.
The deal would be “predicated on an agreed sovereign guarantee based on a long-term BOT [build, operate, transfer] contract,” meaning that WYW would have ownership of the project for however long they want to retain it.
Mihai Sora, a former Australian diplomat, told the Daily Mail: “China is looking to expand its ability to project force around the globe, and the South Pacific is not immune to that.”
“The security cooperation agreement that potentially involves Chinese military assets transiting or basing in the region would have the effect of blocking naval and military assets from other countries like Australia,” added Sora, a fellow at the New South Wales-based think tank Lowy Institute. “That would be destabilizing because it would potentially limit the freedom of movement within the Pacific.”
Sora also acknowledged that Australia had given attention to South Pacific nations as “an attempt to correct that perception of neglect.”
The former diplomat to the Solomon Islands and noted that Australia must do more to engage with its South Pacific neighbors but “the problem is when it comes to budget.”
The United States has sent Marine Corps to Australia’s Northern Territory, and will be training alongside Australian Defence Force (ADF) and are said to be staying until September 2022.
According to Colonel Marcus Constable of the ADF Northern Command called the deployment “a key way [to] increase regional cooperation with partners in the Indo-Pacific,” adding, “Together we conduct a comprehensive range of training activities including humanitarian assistance, security operations and high-end live-fire exercises.”
Beijing has already warned Australia they will suffer a “heavy attack” if the ADF comes to the aid of Taiwan. The CCP has also said they could use nuclear weapons in response to the AUKUS security pact that would allow the ADF to obtain nuclear submarines.