CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has signed a new security agreement with the Oceanian island nation of Vanuatu as part of an ongoing competition with China for influence in the Pacific.
The new security pact covers humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, law enforcement, cyber security, defense, border security, and maritime security. The full text of the agreement has not yet been released.
“We all have a responsibility to ensure that our sovereign decisions enhance the security of all members of the Pacific and we are deeply proud to be Vanuatu’s leading security partner,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny told reporters on Tuesday. Wong, in the capital of Port. Town.
Earlier this year, China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, raising the alarm in the South Pacific that could lead to a military buildup. chinese too tried without success that 10 Pacific nations sign a comprehensive agreement covering everything from security to fisheries.
Australia has been countering China’s moves with its own island-hopping diplomatic missions in the Pacific.
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Wong said decisions about how Pacific countries wish to engage with Australia, the level of cooperation they seek and what they choose to prioritize are up to individual nations.
The Wong-led delegation also participated in the delivery of a new pier and a police boat. The pier was built as part of Australia’s Pacific Maritime Safety Program.
From Vanuatu, the delegation travels to Palau and then to Micronesia. Palau is one of the few remaining nations that continues to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of China.
Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr. said the economy should not be used to influence his policies.
“There is a lot of Chinese investment in Palau. I think they are now the number one foreign investor. This changes the political dynamic,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “We have been pressured to move to China, and Palau has been strong and said we are no one’s enemies and everyone’s friends and no one should tell us who our friends should be. to be”.
Whipps also applauded Australia for raising its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to 43% by the end of the decade, but wanted it to go further.
“We would like to see a 50% reduction by 2030,” he told the broadcaster.
Many Pacific nations view climate change as their biggest challenge and existential threat as sea levels rise and stronger storms threaten to inundate many low-lying islands.
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