The USA has said it will join Australia in the development of a naval base on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island to “protect the freedom of the seas,” in a move apparently aimed at curbing China’s presence in the Pacific.
Australia, a staunch Anglo-Saxon ally in the Pacific, had already set its sights on Papua New Guinea’s Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island earlier in November, seeking to build a deep-water facility for its Navy.
Now, Washington apparently has also decided to join the effort, in a move clearly aimed at sending a signal to Beijing, which is already locked in a trade war with Washington and in disputes over the South China Sea.
It is no surprise that the Pentagon’s decision apparently came on the heels of rumors that China might also emerge as the eventual developer of the deep-water base.
Implementing the American vision of fair and reciprocal trade with China remains one of the main objectives the White House is pursuing, in addition to intellectual property protection and challenging Beijing’s power in the Pacific.
Some other reports now suggested that China approached another Pacific island nation, Vanuatu, seeking to open a military base there.
The USA seems to be concerned that Beijing might use its growing influence over the Pacific island nations to get access to some military infrastructure in the vicinity of major maritime routes in the region.
US Vice President Pence even engaged in an indirect verbal duel with China’s President Xi Jingping at the APEC summit, where the two apparently fought for the attention of the smaller Pacific nations.
However, in its attempt to outplay Beijing in its supposed rush to gain control over strategic locations in the Pacific, the USA and Australia seemingly completely forgot to ask the locals about their take on the prospect of the base re-development.
The project was also criticized by a former Papua New Guinea MP from the island, Ronnie Knight, who said that “there is lot of questions to be answered” first. There was no discussion with any of the locals, it has just been bulldozed through again and that is what makes people worry.
RT.com / ABC Flash Point Military News 2018.