Australia boosts funding for Pacific to counter China

Australia will spend an extra $206 million to boost ties and increase its presence in the Indo-Pacific as a counter to China’s growing influence in the region.

Canberra is increasing its footprint through security deals and infrastructure development in countries such as the Solomon Islands, which struck a controversial security pact with China in 2022.

These efforts were also bolstered through the additional funding in the 2024/25 federal budget for the expansion and upgrading of property in the region.

This will include $5.5 million to extend the Australian Federal Police deployment to the Solomon Islands, which looked to Beijing for its security needs after the 2022 pact was signed.

Another package ‚Äď an undisclosed amount due to financial arrangements with third parties ‚Äď will support the development of telecommunications infrastructure in the Solomon Islands.

The budget also locks in a business package for Southeast Asia, which includes $2 billion in loans, guarantees, equity and insurance managed by Export Finance Australia.

A further $254.2 million over four years will be spent to boost the nation’s diplomatic service.

As countries increasingly face cyber attacks from malicious state and non-state organisations, $187.8 million will be set aside to upgrade IT and security at Department of Foreign Affairs buildings.

The government’s buildings abroad will be allocated $40 million over two years from the next financial year.

In trade, $14.4 million will be spent to expand the Australia-India Business Exchange which promotes investment in the 1.4 billion-strong South Asian nation.

 

Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)

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