This includes physical visits to 7 (west to east in map below) Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Kiribati. China is also holding Internet “visits” to the remaining 3, the Cook Islands, Niue and the Federated States of Micronesia.
The US bases in the large, rich, island of Guam are within the much smaller, poorer, islands of the Federated States of Micronesia. So its no surprise that Micronesia's President, David Panuelo, has told leaders of the other 9 Pacific nations that he won’t endorse China’s plans.
Australia's new Foreign Minister, Penny Ying-Yen Wong - from today is conducting visits to most of those island nations over the next few weeks to try to head off China's moves. The 10 island nations have traditionally been Five Eye friendly, with Australia and New Zealand being "Deputy Sheriffs" to keep it that way.
China wants the 10 nations to sign up to a comprehensive agreement covering police, security, communications infrastructure and fisheries. China training police is significant because most of the island nations do not have defence forces.
Instead it is island police forces who provide paramilitary power in most of the nations. If China trains these police forces it is these forces that could launch regime changes/coups against their island leaders if those leaders pursue policies not to China’s liking.
Chinese infrastructure loans, which usually include generous commissions/bribes for Pacific Island leaders, would make China’s illegal fishing legal in many Pacific waters.
Chinese infrastructure offers are thought to include improved mobile phone networks and new internet telecommunications generally. These new networks could more easily be monitored by China’s NSA.
China’s new ambitious plans for
these island nations will be on the way to dual-use air and sea ports that
could gradually morph into Chinese air and naval bases. This would fundamentally free China from the present situation in which its air and naval forces can be hemmed in within the first island chain in time of war.
A historical example of similar creeping island nation domination is US control of Caribbean islands. For example this is present in:
- The Bahamas which hosts the US’s huge Atlantic Undersea [Submarine] Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC)
- the USN's Guantanamo Bay Naval Base maintained by force in an ever reluctant Cuba. This Base was permanently leased to the US under the unequal Treaty of 1903 which followed the US invasion of (then Spanish) Cuba way back in 1898. Under such duress it is no surprise that the CIA reports China is Cuba's largest export destination.
Yet it is US conventional and nuclear military power that has protected Australia in the past and present.
More see CNBC News' May 25, 2022, report.