10 Apr 2018

NZ strongly opposes militarisation of the Pacific - PM

3:42 pm on 10 April 2018

The Prime Minister says, in general, her government opposes militarisation of the Pacific, in response to reports China wants to build a military base in Vanuatu.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

A Sydney Morning Herald article reports while no formal proposals have been put to Vanuatu's government, senior security officials believe Beijing's plans could result in a full military base.

It also said the prospect of a Chinese military outpost so close to Australia has been discussed at the highest levels in Canberra and Washington.

Responding to media reports, Jacinda Ardern said ultimately it was for China and Vanuatu to discuss as two sovereign nations.

"But I'm very openly expressing now, and would do either privately or publicly, that we take a strong position in the Pacific against militarisation.

National Party leader Simon Bridges wanted to see more details before taking a firm position.

"To see infrastructure investment by other countries through a variety of investment vehicles is not uncommon, that's not necessarily a wrong", he said.

"But I think when you're talking military and these sort of things you'd want to think it through pretty carefully."

National foreign affairs spokesperson Todd McClay said Vanuatu and New Zealand had a strong relationship and the proposal was likely something this country would like to discuss before anything goes ahead.

"But any form of militarisation within the Pacific would be viewed dimly I'm sure."

Vanuatu is one of the few countries that has supported Beijing's controversial island-building programme in the South China Sea.

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