China edging closer to US with plans to move WARSHIPS to new volcanic island base

Friday, April 27, 2018
By Paul Martin

CHINA is hoping to build a major military base on Vanuatu – a Pacific Ocean nation made up of 80 islands – in the hope of showcasing to the world the firepower at its disposal.

Fri, Apr 27, 2018

Washington chiefs are thought to be discussing the plans which would put China closer to the United States.

The move would also mean China would sail warships past Australia – two nations whose relationship has been deteriorating in recent years.

China is currently in discussion with government officials in Vanuatu about the military base, according to reports.

Charles Edel, a former adviser to former US secretary of state John Kerry, told Fairfax Media: “If it turns out there are one or more Chinese bases … what it has the ability to do is challenge, and make much more challenging, American access into the region.

“Chinese presence in Vanuatu, while today about fishing access and commercial trade, tomorrow could represent a threat to Australia’s northern approaches.”

Zack Cooper, a former White House and Pentagon official now at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said: “I think it is important Australia appreciates China is far away but Chinese activity is definitely affecting Australia in a much more proximate way.”

However, both Vanuatu and China denied these claims, with the island nation’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu saying Vanuatu is “not interested in militarisation”.

Tension has been mounting between Australia and China in recent years, with China’s state media labelling Australia as an “anti-China pioneer in the last two years”, “repugnant”, while saying the Antipodean nation’s behaviour is “baffling”.

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