Australia Seeks to Block China With Stake in Pacific Mobile Networks
On Monday, Australia’s biggest communications provider Telstra Corp. announced that it is considering buying the mobile networks in Paua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu. The Australian government is reportedly planning on providing most of the financing for the acquisition of the mobile networks in the six Pacific nations. The move has been assessed by foreign policy experts as designed to block China from purchasing strategically located assets. The networks are currently owned by Digicel Group, based in Jamaica. The networks are adjacent to subsea cables that carry communications between Australia and its neighbors.
This would mark the latest move by the Australian government to limit Chinese affluence in the region. The Australian government has specifically targeted the communications sector as grounds to make gains over Chinese entities with a substantial interest in the region, notably Huawei Technologies Co. Australia previously banned Huawei from involvement in its 5G mobile network. Telstra stated that there is no certainty that a transaction will proceed as it has not been finalized. Telstra was owned by the Australian government until 1997.