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Australia Pledges Millions in Climate, Security Aid for Pacific

    Australia Pledges Millions in Climate, Security Aid for Pacific
    Last updated: 1 month ago
    Image credit: D/AFP/Getty Images [via The Guardian]

    Facts

    • At the Pacific Way Conference in French Polynesia on Friday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced that Australia would send AUS$900M ($565M) to the Pacific region. The payment will be part of a planned increase of AUS$1.4B (about $878.3M) to the country's overseas development assistance budget over the next four years. [1]
    • Reports suggest that the funds will help Pacific nation islands deal with issues related to the climate crisis, reduce pressure on stretched government budgets, and aid aviation links in the territory. [2]
    • Wong said the funding commitments were a "major step toward the goal of making Australia stronger and more influential in the world," adding, "our assistance will help our regional partners become more economically resilient, develop critical infrastructure and provide their own security." [3]
    • The move is widely considered an attempt to counter China's growing influence in the Pacific region, particularly after the Solomon Islands signed a security agreement with Beijing earlier this year. [4]
    • The deal gives Chinese security personnel access to the Solomon Islands — an arrangement that some Australian officials are concerned could give China a military foothold in the territory. Beijing, however, has said it isn't pursuing an army base in Honiara. [5]
    • To show Australia's investment in its Pacific neighbors, Wong has visited over 10 Pacific nations since the Labor government was formed in May. Australia has also recently signed fresh security pacts with Fiji and East Timor. [5]
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    Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    China's recent call for a reset in frosty relations between the nations indicates a softening attitude — evidently, China realizes it's risking its international reputation and economic strength by pursuing such a hostile approach in the Pacific region. However, until China's emerging strategy becomes more apparent, greater cooperation between US allies such as Australia, with countries like Fiji and the Solomon Islands, is necessary to maintain territorial independence.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Australian alliances with neighboring countries — formed in opposition to China — are the result of coordinated efforts by the US to turn foreign nations into their own military stepping stones. Such agreements ensure that deployments in strategically sensitive areas would only bring counterattacks on a foreign frontline while the US can sit idly across the Pacific to reap the rewards of their efforts.

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