South Pacific Nation Vanuatu Rejects Reports Of Hosting Chinese Military Base

| April 10 , 2018 , 12:24 IST

Initial reports by Australia's Firefax media citing 'unnamed' sources regarding China planning to set up a military base in the small South Pacific nation of Vanuatu have been strongly rejected by both Vanuatu and China on Tuesday.

Located off the coast of Australia, Vanuatu is strategically placed for a possible military base especially for China as it flanks Japan and the US, however, the Foreign Minister of Vanuatu emphasised that it is not interested in any sort of military base.

"No one in the Vanuatu Government has ever talked about a Chinese military base in Vanuatu of any sort," Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu said to ABC.

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"We are a non-aligned country. We are not interested in militarisation, we are just not interested in any sort of military base in our country," he said.

"I'm not very happy about the standard of reporting in the Australia media," Regenvanu added.

"I would hope the upsurge in the paranoia about China in Australia is not used to destroy or denigrate the good relationship Vanuatu has with Australia," he said.

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A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Vanuatu, Chen Ke said the idea that China is planning to establish a military base in Vanuatu is "ridiculous" and "impossible".

The Australian media report had claimed that informal discussions were underway between China and Vanuatu regarding a military build-up in the island nation, which would put Australian interests at risk. As the reports of a possible Chinese military base in Vanuatu spread in international media, experts also weighed in on the impact of such a base.

Currently, China has only one military base in a foreign country, located in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, but has been increasing its presence in the Pacific, especially in the South China Sea.