The US has struck what could be a vital new security deal to build a new military base in the Pacific as tensions between the West and China threaten to boil over.
American troops and warships will be stationed in Papua New Guinea (PNG) as part of a 15-year pact. This adds another country to a growing list of US alliances in the region with the aim of tempering Beijing’s influence, especially when it comes to a feared invasion of Taiwan, reports The Daily Express US.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed the deal in Port Moresby, the capital of PNG, which is a 180,000-square-mile country in the South Pacific sitting just north of Australia, making it a crucial staging ground for the military in a potential fight against China.
Blinken said: “We’re deeply invested in the Indo-Pacific because our planet’s future is being written here.”
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Details of the deal, which was agreed last month, have only just been revealed and gives Washington “unimpeded” access to “pre-position equipment, supplies and materiel” at certain bases while gaining “exclusive access” to some areas where development and construction could be carried out.
James Marape, PNG’s prime minister, inists the move “secures our national interests” in “becoming a robust economy in this part of the world”.
However, he faces growing domestic opposition that fostering closer ties with the US could drag the island nation into a potential war between the America and China.
Former PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill said: “America is doing it for the protection of their own national interest, we all understand the geopolitics happening within our region.”
The move is seen as a reaction to Beijing’s own security pact with the Solomon Islands – due east of PNG – that could pave the way for Chinese troops and warships to be positioned just 1,200 miles from the Australian coast.
The US has been successful in fostering closer ties with several other Asia-Pacific nations concerned over China’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Among them is the Philippines, which has given the green-light for expanded US military access to the north and west.
According to reporting by Nikkei Asia, the next step for President Joe Biden could be a new partnership with Japan. Talks have begun about Tokyo hosting a new multifunction army unit that would handle long-range strikes, air defense, intelligence, cyberwarfare, electronic warfare and logistics support.