Wong: Responsible management of competition between great powers should be encouraged

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Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Penny Wong and her delegations make their way for a news conference at the Australian High Commissioner to Fiji’s residence at Tamavua in Suva on Thursday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

At a time when there is greater competition between great powers, one of the things we all should be doing is to encourage and urge the responsible management of that competition.

This was the response of Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong to questions from this newspaper on the increased geopolitical interests in the Pacific.

In recent months, the region has noted an increase in high level diplomatic visits by western countries.

In July, United States of America Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Tonga where he opened the American embassy and later travelled to New Zealand where he discussed and invited NZ to join the AUKUS (Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States AUKUS), a new security partnership that would promote a free and open Indo-Pacific that is secure and stable.

That same month US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin was in Papua New Guinea to strengthen ties, specifically in areas of defence, and the French President Emmanuel Macron visited New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

Ms Wong said Australia always seeked peace, and its AUKUS partnership for its replacement capabilities and not for power.

“We are not one of the great powers and any capability we seek, and we are seeking replacement capability is to keep peace and stability,” she said.

“We share an interest our way. We all want peace. We all want stability. And we know both of those things are critical for what we all also want which is prosperity and continued development.”

The Australian Foreign Minister, who is in the country for the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers meeting, said the discussions that will be held at the forum were part of the peace-building agenda.

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