Australia beats China in bid to fund Fiji military base

black rock

Australia has been competing with China to fund the Republic of Fiji Military Force’s (RFMF) Black Rock Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Camp situated in Nadi.

RFMF’s chief of staff for coordination, Captain Eronia Duaibe, said that Australia’s bid was successful because they took a holistic approach to Black Rock’s construction, rather than the “bits and pieces” tabled by China.

This comes at a time when Fiji’s position between Australia and China within the Pacific is becoming more and more contested.

Increasing Chinese activity within the region as a result of China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) has prompted Australia’s re-engagement within the Pacific.

After the last coup, prime minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama adopted a stance that looked past both Australia and New Zealand and towards China.

This was partly because China did not criticise Fiji’s domestic political situation, whereas Australia was particularly critical about a return to democracy within Fiji.

Some argue that China’s BRI presents a sovereign risk to the Pacific islands, with only Australia’s re-engagement within the area a way to turn the tide against Chinese influence.

The redevelopment at Black Rock will result in the camp being transformed into a regional hub for police and peacekeeping training and pre-deployment preparation.

The prime ministers of Australia and Fiji made the announcement in August in a joint media statement.

According to the statement, the Australian support will ensure the Black Rock facility will deliver enhanced capability development and stronger interoperability between the Australian Defence Force and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

The Black Rock base is believed to be poised as the centre for Canberra’s proposed Australian Pacific Security College.

Source

News category: Asia Pacific.

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