Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says security is one of the reasons why Britain will open three new diplomatic posts in the Pacific Islands.
The development follows Australia’s call for the UK to direct more of its aid to the Pacific, to help hedge against China’s spending-spree in the region.
Johnson announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London that Britain would open nine new diplomatic posts, including the one in Vanuatu, as well as in Samoa and Tonga.
Other countries to have new new diplomatic posts of Britain are Lesotho, Swaziland, The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Brisbane Times reports.
Johnson said Britain wanted to expand its focus across the globe after Brexit and cited three reasons including security.
“As a Commonwealth family of nations, it is in our shared interest to boost prosperity, tackle security issues and clear up the environment.
“These new diplomatic posts are in regions which provide huge potential and opportunity post-Brexit for British businesses and will help us to deepen our relationships across the Commonwealth.
“After we leave the EU, Global Britain will remain outward facing, open for business and a champion of the rules-based international order.”
Last week, Fairfax Media revealed that Beijing had sounded out Vanuatu about building a military base there, which would put Chinese warships on Australia’s doorstep.
Turnbull met Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Charlot Salwai in London on Wednesday and told reporters a short time later: “The Prime Minister of Vanuatu has made it very clear, quite unequivocally, the media reports about Chinese interest in establishing a military base in Vanuatu have no basis in fact so he has said those reports are absolutely untrue, that’s what he said.”