Via The Australian:
Scott Morrison will move rapidly to mark the Pacific as his top strategic priority, making an early trip to the Solomon Islands next week to counter growing Chinese influence over Australia’s regional neighbours.
The visit comes as Beijing ramps up regional tensions with its attempts to lure the Solomons and other small island-states to sever ties with Taiwan, and US warnings that Chinese interference in the Pacific is leading to “the possibility of conflict”.
The Australian can reveal the Prime Minister will use his first overseas trip since the election to visit new Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Honiara on Sunday, before travelling to London for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and returning home via Singapore.
Good. We should be quietly militarising the Pacific in our own favour (defensively of course) in the period ahead.
The ALP has made a positive shift, too, with Richard Marles likely headed for deputy opposition leader. He also a China hawk, such as they come in Australia, previously at the AFR:
The Labor opposition has signalled it will try to counter China in the Pacific by injecting Australia more assertively into partnerships with small neighbouring island countries that China is attempting to woo.
Labor defence spokesman Richard Marles argued the Turnbull government had undermined national security by failing to lead Pacific island countries and allowing China to fill a strategic “gap” in Australia’s neighbourhood.
In an address at a Washington think tank after visiting senior Trump administration officials at the White House and Pentagon, Mr Marles said the US looked at Australia with “bemusement” for its lack of vision and strategy for ensuring security and assisting development in the region.
What we need to see next is Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for CPC containment at home funded and deployed with all force. It is currently sitting on a shelf somewhere inside PM&C.