Vanuatu’s prime minister has met his Australian counterpart and reiterated that his government will not allow China to build a military base on its shores.
Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai.Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai. Photo: RNZ/Koroi Hawkins
Following reports that security officials were worried about China’s intentions in Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai met Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull in London ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Mr Salwai said he has worked in government for 27 years, as an adviser and MP, and the idea of a Chinese military base has never been raised.
He told reporters that he attended a lot of meetings and it was never in any negotiations.
Mr Salwai ruled out any plans for a Chinese base in his country, and said he raised it with Mr Turnbull in their bilateral meeting.
He said he assured Mr Turnbull that Vanuatu was never dreaming of becoming a military base as it was not in their culture or tradition.
Mr Salwai had conceded China was building a wharf in Vanuatu funded by a concessional loan, but he said that is because the loan was cheaper than the one Japan had offered.
Earlier this month Australian media reported that China was looking to establish a base in Vanuautu.
China said reports it wants a military base in Vanuatu are “sheer fiction” from troublemakers.
Vanuatu’s foreign minister Ralph Reganvanu told RNZ Pacific that it had a long history of being opposed to militarisation, and would not host a base and make itself a target for possible attack.