US, UK join Pacific partners in Fijian military activity

A military exercise carried out in Fiji involving the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand comes to an this week as the traditional allies dispute China’s thriving influence in the region.

As contained in an email by the U.S. Embassy in the Fijian capital Suva on Tuesday, The 11-day Exercise Cartwheel in Fiji started Sept. 12 and ended Friday.

According to the U.S. Navy Commander Victor Lange, the name of the exercise emanated from Operation Cartwheel during World War II, in which the U.S. fought alongside the militaries of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji — then a British colony — to neutralize the Japanese base at Rabaul in Papua New Guinea.

The United States has pledged tremendous engagement with the South Pacific after China and Solomon Islands signed a bilateral security treaty in May that has put up fears of a Chinese naval base being established in the region.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told a South Pacific leaders’ summit in Suva in July that the United States would open new embassies in Tonga and Kiribati.

Also, she flagged a tripling of U.S. funding for fisheries assistance to $60 million.

Similarly, Australia’s new government, which commenced in May, is also taking steps to increase its engagement with its island neighbors.

The government intends to establish an Australia-Pacific Defense School to train neighboring armies in response to China’s potential military presence on the Solomon Islands.

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