Australia and New Zealand are working with Japan to step up coordination with the United States to support Pacific island states. This is growing team effort that the Australians are spearheading to ensure that strong support is given to Pacific states – as a pushback to the growing Chinese expansion in the region as influence-peddling is now increasing. Mr Roy Medcalf, head of the National Security College at Australian National University said, “Australia would like to see the United States, Japan, France, the European Union, a wide range of countries – and China – supporting good development and governance in the South Pacific.” He went on to say, “What we want don`t want to see is a direct competition between Australia and China for influence in the South Pacific.”
Many countries are concerned as China starting building up islands in the South China Sea, saying that there would be no military influence, only to see Navy submarines and Air Force Bases built aggressively – extending China`s influence in the region. Chinese expansion does now end there. The Chinese government is investing in countries, island countries in the region and some think tanks say that China will build bases in several countries in the region, under the guise of their “Belt and Road” initiative. An example, is Sri Lanka, a country that is not able to service debt any longer has gone to China for support, but in return has effectively ceded a new port to China. Will this port be used by the Chinese Navy in 10 years ? Sure, this is the concern voiced by the Australians, Japanese and New Zealanders.
Belt and Road is a massive build out of Chinese influence in the region.
The US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand leadership are now taking action. The four leaders signed the deal, estimated to cost $1.7 billion, to support Pacific countries. The Asian Development Bank estimates that the Pacific region will need $3.1 billion in infrastructure investment each year until 2030. Surely, China will increase its funding to Asian countries and at the same time, as concern grows in the region, increase military bases in the region beyond the South China Sea. China is an expansionist power, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand are pushing back.