China can’t be allowed to expand it’s influence in Pacific

China can’t be allowed to expand it’s influence in Pacific, by Paul Maley.

Australia cannot make the same mistakes in the Pacific that it made in the South China Sea, where Beijing militarised the area quickly and without serious challenge.

China was successful because it moved incrementally and with a finely judged sense of risk. Sand was dredged, islands were created, runways were built, and, lastly, weapon systems were deployed. Individually none of these measures warranted much more than mild protest, but collectively they changed the strategic balance in the region.

There are signs a similar process is under way in the Pacific. …

Chinese aid to the Pacific has grown significantly. A plan for Chinese telco Huawei to lay an underwater cable connecting the Solomon Islands to the Australian mainland had to be kyboshed amid fears it could give Beijing’s cyber-spies an entry point into Australia’s communication systems. And last month there were reports — denied by both sides — that China was in talks with Vanuatu about establishing some kind of military presence.