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‘A threat to our security’: Concetta Fierravanti-Wells on China’s debt-trap diplomacy in the Pacific

After resigning from her post as the Minister for International Development and the Pacific during the wrath of the Liberal leadership coup, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is ramping up calls for Australia to not let China influence the Pacific unopposed.

As Beijing looks to buy strategic advantage in an area long regarded as Australia’s neck of the woods, the phenomenon of debt-trap diplomacy has made its presence known in the region. It appears Beijing is issuing concessional loans to vulnerable nations in the area, hoping the nation concerned will be unable to pay them back. As compensation for the unpaid debt, Beijing seizes a critical asset or piece of infrastructure.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who has been pressing the point since January this year, says this could spell bad news for Australia’s national security.

“Everything that we do in our region has a collateral implication for our own security. That’s ultimately what it comes down too,” she tells Michael McLaren.

To ensure Australia doesn’t lose its clout, Fierravanti-Wells is calling for more of our foreign aid budget to be redirected into the Pacific. This is the primary way to counter China’s interference in the region and ensure our security isn’t compromised.

“Our allies expect us to look after this part of the world,” she says.

“This is our neighborhood and I believe a bigger proportion of our assistance should go into our neighborhood. I’m not saying increase the overall overseas development assistance budget. But we should be concentrating on our area.”

“Because we don’t want countries on our doorstep having major security issues. That does pose a threat to our security.”

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