Australia will provide $68 million to Fiji to help upgrade the airport amid widespread influence in the South Pacific against Beijing’s encroachment.
The government-backed Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) will partner with ANZ Bank to support infrastructure upgrades to increase passenger capacity at Nadi International Airport to help the country recover from COVID.
Minister for the Pacific Jade Cesselja said Australia was committed to supporting the South Pacific with “high-quality, affordable” infrastructure projects.
“This project is a great example of why Australia established the AIFFP,” Cecelja said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
“Australia’s loan and guarantee package will enable Fiji airports to continue development during COVID-19, preparing to reopen Fiji’s international border.”
ANZ Bank CEO Shayne Elliott said, “ANZ plays a vital role in connecting customers to growing business and investment opportunities across the region.”
“Investing in the infrastructure that puts Fiji in a position to increase capacity is critical to driving future growth once international travel resumes,” he said in a statement.PDF)
The airport funding will be the fourth project supported by AIFFP, which comes under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. So far, the body has controlled five projects in the region, including a solar farm in Papua New Guinea, an undersea cable to Palau and a hydro-electric system in the Solomon Islands.
Announced and established in 2018 under Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the AIFFP is part of the wider Pacific Step-Up, which was established amid concerns that Beijing may be creating influence in the South Pacific through low-cost lending to island nations. Had been.
The latest announcement comes after revelations in July that the government and telecommunications giant Telstra were working together on a potential bid to buy Digicel’s mobile network — a global telco with interests primarily in the Pacific and Caribbean region.
Experts told The Epoch Times that even though the deal was not commercially viable, the government was still keen to control a potential takeover of the company to prevent any potential bids from Beijing.
The South Pacific has been a hotbed of tug-of-war between democratic allies and Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has used initiatives such as the Belt and Road Initiative, vaccine donations and diplomatic influence to garner support from Pacific island leaders.
The response of Pacific countries has been varied, with some adopting ties with Beijing and others rejecting it outright.
Over the weekend, Samoa’s new Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’fa pledged to finish development of a US$100 million BRI port near the country’s capital.
His stance was a marked change from that of the current leader of Samoa, Tuilepa Selle Malielegaoi, who has maintained close ties with the CCP for much of his two-decade-long rule.
News From – The Epoch Times