Australia commits to train Pacific islands for defence

In the face of growing rivalry for security ties in the area and as China prepares for a competing gathering to the Pacific Islands Forum next month, Australia will establish a defense school to teach Pacific island forces, according to Canberra’s new Pacific minister.

As the Pacific sea level rises are anticipated to be four times the global average, Australia will double its funding for aerial surveillance of the Pacific islands’ expansive fishing zone and provide financing for Pacific islands to build more resilient infrastructure, said Pat Conroy, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, at a Pacific conference on Tuesday.

In a video speech to the conference in Suva, the capital of Fiji, he stated, “The Australian Government realizes that the question of security is inseparable from the issue of climate change.”

Regional officials are anticipated to debate China’s efforts to reach a trade and security agreement with 10 Pacific island states that have diplomatic connections with China during the Pacific Islands Forum, which will be held in Suva next month.

According to a leaked copy of the agreement, it included police training in addition to fisheries and marine security.

Australia and New Zealand, two countries that have voiced worry about China’s most recent security agreement with the Solomon Islands, are among the 18 members of the forum, along with a number of other countries that recognize Taiwan rather than Beijing.

According to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, China, which is not a PIF member, is attempting to organize a video meeting with the 10 countries it wants to sign a multilateral agreement with on July 14, to coincide with the last day of the PIF leaders meeting.

The day the forum leaders are likely to release a statement also falls on the day of the political leadership discussion that the Communist Party’s international division has scheduled. It is unsure if the meeting with China would take place after it was claimed that some countries would not be happy with the schedule.

The Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party conducted a similar event the previous year.

Zhao Lijian, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, told reporters at a regular press conference in Beijing on Tuesday that inquiries regarding the meeting should be sent to “relevant competent authorities,” but made some general observations.

According to him, “China’s relations with Pacific island nations are now progressing well, with government agencies, governing bodies, political parties, and civil society on both sides maintaining strong contacts and collaboration.”

He mentioned that non-member nations considered to be conversation partners, such as China and the United States, had their annual meeting halted by the PIF.

We will remain in regular contact with the discussants regarding the follow-up preparations and completely accept the PIF side’s choice to postpone the dialogue event this year.

The withdrawal of Tuvalu’s foreign minister from a United Nations oceans meeting on Monday after China barred three Taiwanese members of the Tuvalu delegation from attending underscored tensions between China and the island nations that have diplomatic links with Taiwan.

Conroy said that the Pacific Islands Forum was “the core of Pacific regionalism” and that it had united the area for 50 years.

He presented the new Australian government’s plans to help the area prior to the conference, including the establishment of an Australia Pacific Defence School that would educate defense and security personnel.

He claimed that the election-era promise to quadruple funds for aircraft monitoring of the Pacific EEZs would boost marine security and recover US$150 million in annual unlawful fishing losses.

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