The Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten has accused the local government of a “strategic blunder in the Pacific” and treating the small nations as “flyover states” as concern grows about Chinese influence and investment in the region.
As Britain created three new diplomatic posts in Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga to counter China’s influence, the Opposition Leader said concerns in the South Pacific weren’t about China but “about us,” The Australian reports.
“The Turnbull government’s approach towards our friends in the Pacific has been found wanting. This is a strategic blunder,” Mr Shorten said.
“This isn’t about China, this is about us. The government appears to have forgotten the Pacific, so is it any wonder the Pacific is forgetting us? It’s time to stop thinking of the Pacific as flyover nation states and start seeing them as important allies integral to Australia’s long-term interests.’’
Mr Shorten did not shift from Labor’s support for the government over foreign interference but blamed the Coalition for neglecting the South Pacific as Chinese influence grows.