By Jacob L. Shapiro
China’s expansion has hit a new obstacle: Australia. Most of the attention on China’s maritime expansion focuses on the South China Sea, where the presence of so many countries with territorial claims complicates the formation of an anti-China bloc. When China zeroes in on the tiny island nations of the South Pacific, however, it runs up against Australia, that region’s lone power. China has vast resources at its disposal, but Australia is signaling that it will try to prevent China from using those resources to gain a foothold in the region.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced June 25 that Canberra was negotiating with Vanuatu on a bilateral security treaty. The statement came as Vanuatu’s prime minister, Charlot Salwai Tabismasmas, was in Canberra for a visit. Turnbull said the security treaty will address issues such as economic aid, maritime surveillance and defense cooperation.
Vanuatu, like New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands a