Chinese military outpost in Vanuatu a ‘big nightmare’ for Australia, experts warn

Chinese military outpost in Vanuatu a ‘big nightmare’ for Australia, experts warn, by Gavin Fernando.

Fears have mounted following reports Beijing is seeking to establish a permanent military base in Vanuatu, less than 2000km from the Australian border.

Initial talks have already begun with Vanuatu, which could see Beijing establishing a major military presence and upsetting the strategic balance of the region, Fairfax Media reported today.

Experts warn this will essentially see a Chinese military outpost planted directly in Australia’s backyard.

Adam Lockyer, a senior lecturer in Security Studies at Macquarie University, stressed that this is a huge deal for us.

“This is a big nightmare for Australia,” he told news.com.au. “A Chinese base here has been the primary fear of Australian strategic thinkers since Federation.”

So what’s China playing at?

Dr Lockyer said Australia had always been relatively safe as long as a great power — like China — didn’t have a base within proximity. …

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop downplayed fears this morning, saying she was confident of Australia’s strong relationship with the island nation 1750km east of Northern Australia.

She also noted that China has only established one military base — in Djibouti in northern Africa.

hat-tip Stephen Neil