Enga - where, without history, people are not people
Security focus is needed in Australia’s relationship with PNG

Australia to create new Pacific military unit to fend off China

Toropo and Campbell
Defence force chiefs - PNG's Major General Gilbert Toropo and Australia's Lieutenant General Angus Campbell


SYDNEY - Australia will create a new military unit dedicated to training and assisting Pacific allies, as Canberra accelerates plans to undercut Chinese influence in the region.

Australia, which long enjoyed virtually unchecked influence in the Pacific, and its Western allies worry that the region has edged closer to China in recent years as Beijing increases aid to the sparsely populated region and its resource-rich oceans.

Australia has channelled ever larger amounts of aid to the region in a bid to counter China's growing presence but defence minister Linda Reynolds said Canberra would also broaden its courtship of the Pacific to include stronger military ties.

"The Pacific Support Force will employ a mobile training team approach to strengthen capacity, resilience and interoperability throughout the region in areas such as security operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peacekeeping," Reynolds said in a statement.

"It will deepen long-standing ties through the conduct of exercises, training and courses," she said.

A source familiar with the details of the plan said the unit was likely to be operational this year.

The announcement came during a six-day visit to Australia by Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape.

The countries said their leaders would meet annually in a bid to foster closer ties that have frayed in recent years.

PNG is rich in commodity resources and is considered vital in securing influence in the region, but it increasingly turned to China for finance under Marape's predecessor, Peter O'Neill.

Australia, which has pledged $3 billion (K7.2 billion) in cheap loans and grants in a bid to arrest its slide in influence and has also pledged to work with the United States, Japan and New Zealand to provide electricity to 70% of the PNG population by 2030.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Barbara Short

Kina 7.2 billion?

Thanks, fixed - KJ

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)