China is planning to establish a permanent military base in Vanuatu, a small island nation in the south Pacific Ocean around 1,750 km east of northern Australia, a report is the The Sydney Morning Herald says.
According to the report, there have been preliminary discussions between the governments of the two countries on this issue.
China has invested in multiple infrastructure-related projects in Vanuatu, including the upgradation of the international airport that serves the country. China reportedly accounts for nearly half of Vanuatu's $463 million foreign debt.
According to The Australian, the Chinese ambassador to Vanuatu had in January allegedly said that Beijing expects political support in return for billions in aid, telling the local media there was “no free lunch”. In 2016, Vanuatu became the first country in the region to support China’s claims to the South China Sea.
If built, this would be China’s second foreign military base after the one built in Djibouti. A base in Vanuatu will not only help China maintain a permanent presence in the south Pacific but also provide it easier access to the Indian Ocean.
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