Pacific Islands - Polynesia and Melanesia.

ngatimozart

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The NZG may be in for a rude awakening with regard to defence and security. It has been reported that China has approached Vanuatu requesting permission to build a permanent military base there. With airborne refuelling, that would put NZ in range of Xian H-6 bombers if they were to be based there. It would also mean PLA Navy warships based permanently in both NZ and Australia's backyard.

China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
The NZG may be in for a rude awakening with regard to defence and security. It has been reported that China has approached Vanuatu requesting permission to build a permanent military base there. With airborne refuelling, that would put NZ in range of Xian H-6 bombers if they were to be based there. It would also mean PLA Navy warships based permanently in both NZ and Australia's backyard.

China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications
IMO it is of historical note that Espiritu Santo (largest island in Vanuatu) was of strategic importance during the WWII Pacific campaign, at it was the site of allied facilities getting forces into the S. Pacific. It was also the site of airfields which helped patrol and protect the SLOC between the US, Australia, and New Zealand. This in turn means that any new aircraft operating from bases in Vanuatu could be used to threaten the SLOC between Australia, the US, and NZ, as well as likely putting parts of mainland Australia and North Island within strike range, especially using standoff munitions.
 

ngatimozart

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IMO it is of historical note that Espiritu Santo (largest island in Vanuatu) was of strategic importance during the WWII Pacific campaign, at it was the site of allied facilities getting forces into the S. Pacific. It was also the site of airfields which helped patrol and protect the SLOC between the US, Australia, and New Zealand. This in turn means that any new aircraft operating from bases in Vanuatu could be used to threaten the SLOC between Australia, the US, and NZ, as well as likely putting parts of mainland Australia and North Island within strike range, especially using standoff munitions.
IIRC RNZAF aircraft operated from Espiritu Santo during the war.
 

kiwipatriot69

Active Member
The NZG may be in for a rude awakening with regard to defence and security. It has been reported that China has approached Vanuatu requesting permission to build a permanent military base there. With airborne refuelling, that would put NZ in range of Xian H-6 bombers if they were to be based there. It would also mean PLA Navy warships based permanently in both NZ and Australia's backyard.

China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications
Is this what is regarded as exersizing a nations 'soft power' buying small nations off with bank loans and infrastructure builds for port facilities though? Doesnt Australia and NZ pratice this, on a much, smaller scale in the pacific? I wonder if this will have any effect on NZ defence policy as i could see issues with defence exersizes and humanitarian aid and disaster relief too
 

oldsig127

Well-Known Member
Is this what is regarded as exersizing a nations 'soft power' buying small nations off with bank loans and infrastructure builds for port facilities though? Doesnt Australia and Nz pratice this, on a much, smaller scale in the pacific?
Big difference between providing aid like hospitals, roads, port infrastructure etc. for general use and under local control, and building a base for foreign military. If Australia or NZ were to build a port or airfield and then home base frigates and F-35s there, you'd have a point

oldsig
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
Is this what is regarded as exersizing a nations 'soft power' buying small nations off with bank loans and infrastructure builds for port facilities though? Doesnt Australia and Nz pratice this, on a much, smaller scale in the pacific? I wonder if this will have any effect on Nz defence policy as i could see issues with defence exersizes and humanitarian aid and disaster relief too
It can be, though soft power includes other things as well. Also the 'size' of a nation is not usually measured either in terms of territory or population, but in terms of economic and diplomatic power and influence.

Speaking in general terms, examples of 'soft power' would actions that Nation A takes to have a deliberate impact (positive or negative) on the economy of Nation B. These actions could be favourable loans and infrastructure building, or trade deals. By the same token though, Nation A could take actions to close or threaten economic activity Nation B engages in, but freezing assets held in foreign banks, threatening access to international markets for export goods, or even flooding the market with competing goods.

Some of the actions France engaged in with respect to NZ following the Rainbow Warrior incident come to mind as examples of 'soft power'.

The basic gist though is that one nation seeks to influence another nation by either creating and providing favourable conditions for growth, or threatening the economic conditions through competition instead of through violence and/or destruction.
 

Rob c

Active Member
IIRC RNZAF aircraft operated from Espiritu Santo during the war.
Yes and my father was stationed there for a time with the RNZAF, had some interesting tales. While our government will make its displeasure known to the public, to cover their political backsides, I doubt they will do anything defence wise, it will always be a case of too little, miles to late regardless whether it is national or labour in power as when it comes to defence the only thing our pollies are good at is sticking their heads in the sand.
 

Gibbo

Active Member
....While our government will make its displeasure known to the public, to cover their political backsides, I doubt they will do anything defence wise, it will always be a case of too little, miles to late regardless whether it is national or labour in power as when it comes to defence the only thing our pollies are good at is sticking their heads in the sand.
The good thing about this is article is that with this now in the public domain, it is going to get a lot harder for any Govt in future simply publicly brush away the notion that the South Pacific is a 'benign strategic' area. There will be a degree of 'stiffening' in public attitude and that can only bode better in the long term for NZDF budgets. The other side of the coin is that the NZ Govt will start seeing some significantly stronger pressure from not only 5-eyes partners but also from the likes of S.E. Asian powers to resource the NZDF appropriately... it'll be quite open pressure if the base does go ahead.

Um, now are we starting to see some of the 'drivers' behind the P8... and guess where that pressure is coming from!?! This article will be causing the Govt a lump in their throat, they will've known this for some time, but now it's in the public domain!
 

ASSAIL

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
We have parallel threads running on the China Vanuatu topic but I'll answer here as it's the most appropriate.

The report is a wake up call for both Australia and NZ whether there's truth in it or not and it has focused the two countries Foreign Affairs geeks to do some hard thinking.
China has been active in the Pacific even though the so called aid is little more than loans and this does cause concern because it's a real cause of influence and I think that both our countries could do more and have taken the South Pacific nations for granted (its only in the last year that the RNZN has begun deploying the IPCs to her Pacific sovereign areas by way of example).

It also justifies Australia's position on the aid budget, that is, spend the allocated funds on our near neighbours and not in West Africa or other worthy though distant places of need. This of cause despite the Left of politics screaming bloody murder and promising to double the budget in future to cover all,causes.

But the strategic question remains, what if it did happen and what could we do about it? These questions surely justify a closer study of defence needs in both countries and illustrates just how vulnerable, particularly NZ, we would be if it did happen. It brings back the distant memories/parallels with the IJNs "Kido Butai" mobile strike force's goal to encircle Australia and isolate us from resupply from the US during the Pacific War. They rapidly occupied New Guinea and Bougainville, progressed through the Solomans and their plans had envisaged occupying Vanuatu (New Hebrides) Fiji and Samoa.

Whilst this is ancient history the strategic lesson remains and should exercise the minds of those dictating both policy and strategy.
 

Rob c

Active Member
I suspect that unless there is a political party that pushes a strong defence policy as part of government, that nothing will happen about a Chinese presence in Vanuatu unless the NZ government is absolutely forced to and dragged kicking and screaming into the world of defence reality. Otherwise you will see a lot of disapproving talk and posturing and little or no action on the defence front. The pollies heads will all be buried deep in the sand as always.
 

ASSAIL

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
I suspect that unless there is a political party that pushes a strong defence policy as part of government, that nothing will happen about a Chinese presence in Vanuatu unless the NZ government is absolutely forced to and dragged kicking and screaming into the world of defence reality. Otherwise you will see a lot of disapproving talk and posturing and little or no action on the defence front. The pollies heads will all be buried deep in the sand as always.
There is more that can be done apart from simply increasing Defence budgets and this is what should and can be done now.
The Army can deploy for more civil aid projects and support of the tiny island defence forces. The airforces can have a greater presence in the region, again supporting aid projects and the Navy can rotate through the area more regularly as well,as providing an enduring presence with the IPVs/Armidales and providing more fishing and sovereignty support for and exercises with the Pacific Patrol forces.
It's not only the military that should be more engaged, it's the diplomatic institutions who need to be more focused and responsive to Island matters.
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
There is more that can be done apart from simply increasing Defence budgets and this is what should and can be done now.
The Army can deploy for more civil aid projects and support of the tiny island defence forces. The airforces can have a greater presence in the region, again supporting aid projects and the Navy can rotate through the area more regularly as well,as providing an enduring presence with the IPVs/Armidales and providing more fishing and sovereignty support for and exercises with the Pacific Patrol forces.
It's not only the military that should be more engaged, it's the diplomatic institutions who need to be more focused and responsive to Island matters.
I would also suggest that more economic involvement when/where practical as well as opportunities for student exchanges. In short, activities which can tie Oz and NZ to the S. Pacific island nations together more firmly.
 

Boagrius

Active Member
The Prime Minister has warned China not to consider building military bases on South Pacific Islands.

"The maintenance of peace and stability in the Pacific is of utmost importance to Australia," Malcolm Turnbull said.

"We would view with great concern the establishment of any foreign military bases in those Pacific Island countries and neighbours of ours."

It comes after a Fairfax Media report which said that there have been early discussions between the Chinese and Vanuatu governments about a military build-up in the island nation.
PM warns China not to consider building naval base in the South Pacific

This popped up in the RAN thread but I figured this was the appropriate place to discuss it in depth. While it's being played down now I imagine something like this could really shake up our force planning. Interested to hear the thoughts of the resident defence pros on the matter.
 
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Rob c

Active Member
There is more that can be done apart from simply increasing Defence budgets and this is what should and can be done now.
The Army can deploy for more civil aid projects and support of the tiny island defence forces. The airforces can have a greater presence in the region, again supporting aid projects and the Navy can rotate through the area more regularly as well,as providing an enduring presence with the IPVs/Armidales and providing more fishing and sovereignty support for and exercises with the Pacific Patrol forces.
It's not only the military that should be more engaged, it's the diplomatic institutions who need to be more focused and responsive to Island matters.
Agree that more could and should be done to assist the island nations, both economically and in defence matters. However we need our defence abilities to be seen to be able to give a good umbrella of coverage for the islands (NZ cannot achieve this, we cannot even cover ourselves) and we match that with stronger economic assistance (whether the government is prepared to dig deeper in this regard is debatable) then outside influences not necessarily to our liking can prevail.
 

MrConservative

Super Moderator
Staff member
I would also suggest that more economic involvement when/where practical as well as opportunities for student exchanges. In short, activities which can tie Oz and NZ to the S. Pacific island nations together more firmly.
I would also add to that the utility of sport. There has been research done into the soft power of the Professional Rugby codes of NZ and Australia into the Pacific.
 

ASSAIL

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
I would also add to that the utility of sport. There has been research done into the soft power of the Professional Rugby codes of NZ and Australia into the Pacific.
The Pacific Island forum is one place where Aust and NZ can do much more.
This annual meeting has languished ever since the coup in Fiji and given the latest events it's a place where many of these suggestions can be matured and progressed.
I only hope that more can be done as there was a time, in the 50s and 60s when Pacific affairs were the primary focus for our two countries, our presence on the world stage was far more restricted and the Pacific was one place where our influence mattered.
Unfortunately our focus has shifted but it needs to once more include this vital area of interest.
 
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