Australia to create Pacific infrastructure fund in bid to counter China

Commander of Joint Operations Australian Defence forces Vice Admiral David Johnston and US Army in the Pacific commander General Robert Brown

Australia's foreign minister raised China's internment of Uighur minorities in Xinjiang at a meeting with her Chinese counterpart on Thursday as Beijing comes under increasing global scrutiny over its controversial security policy.

For her part, Payne said that a prosperous China bears positive significance to the rest of the world, and Australia does not regard China as a military threat.

The number of Chinese fishing vessels operating in the tuna-rich waters of the Pacific has also increased from 244 in 2010 to over 600, according to data from Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.Without mentioning China by name, Morrison hailed common values with island nations and said he would expand Australia's diplomatic footprint to "every member country of the Pacific Islands Forum".

Australia will provide grants and loans for telecommunications, energy, transport...

But Mr Morrison attempted to play down suggestions that the new measures in the Pacific were aimed at China.

Australia will also strengthen its links with police forces in the Pacific.

With an eye on China's growing role in the Pacific, Australia on Thursday announced 3 billion Aus dollar in financial enticements to boost its presence in the region, accompanied by a series of security and political initiatives.

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"In our respective way, we can contribute to the development and prosperity in the Pacific island countries", Wang said. He said in a Nov 1 speech at an Asia Society event hosted by Bloomberg in Sydney that "China is the country that is most changing the balance of power" and "exercising unprecedented influence in the Indo-Pacific".

While China is Australia's largest trading partner, ties between the two governments have been strained in recent years over allegations Beijing was interfering in domestic politics and using donations to gain access.

China has spent US$1.3 billion (£990 million) on concessionary loans and gifts since 2011 to become the Pacific's second-largest donor after Australia, stoking concern in the West that several tiny nations could end up overburdened and in debt to Beijing. "Australia needs more tools to engage with the Pacific", said Jonathan Pryke, a Pacific Islands foreign policy expert with the Lowy Institute, an Australian think-tank.

On Wednesday, Australia said it intends to block a Chinese and Hong Kong consortium's 13 billion Australian dollar ($9 billion) bid to take over the APA group.

Earlier this month, Australia said it would help PNG develop a naval base, beating out China as a possible partner for the port development.

Payne visited Beijing for the Fifth Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue.

"We remain absolutely committed as a government to welcoming foreign investment into Australia".

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