The United States has conducted a survey of a Chinese-funded wharf in Vanuatu ahead of a military exercise by US forces planned for the South Pacific later this year, the US Marine Corps said.
The wharf had been the subject of reports in Australia’s Fairfax Media that China wanted to establish a permanent military base in the Pacific island nation. Both Vanuatu and China denied the report amid heightened tension with the United States over China’s activity in the South China Sea, Reuters reports.
US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Curtis L. Hill told Reuters that a small contingent of Marines from 1 Marine Expeditionary Force based in California had conducted a site survey in preparation for the exercise that US forces will hold.
“The site survey was conducted due to the likely participation of a Military Sealift Command support vessel in the exercise,” he said.