Port Vila — China’s aggressive efforts to increase its maritime presence in the Pacific region have raised a growing concern and speculations that it may be seeking to build a military outpost in Vanuatu.
Although Beijing has quickly denied this speculation, Vanuatu President Obed Moses Tallis won’t take any chances. He is inviting the United States to further expand its Pacific presence.
“I have made the call before and I am making it again, that you (U.S.) were here in WWII and built your base here,” Tallis said in his keynote address at the swearing in of 36 new U.S. Peace Corps volunteers at the Chiefs Nakamal on June 21.
During WWII, the U.S. to maintain its largest military base in the Pacific islands in Luganville, which held a quarter of a million soldiers, who successfully turned the tide against Japan’s imperial army up north in the Solomons.
“I want you to reconsider returning to build your base here in Vanuatu again,” Tallis said.
U.S. Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray said she was surprised by rumors about China’s supposed military buildup in Vanuatu. “The job of the United States and Vanuatu’s job is to make them a good neighbor and make sure they abide by international conventions and we look after the interests of Vanuatu,” Elbert-Gray said. “The government of Vanuatu needs to be sure that they are well aware of the long-term impacts of the agreements that they make and the United States needs to be sure that there is a balance of power in the region.”