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Defense Minister Peter Dutton raised the prospect of China paying bribes to Pacific island nations, saying the large country had changed its approach in recent years.

In an interview with Sky News this morning, Dutton said that if China’s recently concluded security agreement with Solomon Islands became isolated, “it would be bad enough” – but China seems to be following suit.

Secretary of Defense Peter Dutton. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“They have a port in Sri Lanka where they have taken it back because the Sri Lankans could not pay the debt they had incurred from the Chinese in building this port,” the defense minister said.

“When you look at what happened in Africa, there are corrupt payments – we could never compete with this kind of guide.”

Asked if corruption payments had been made in the Solomons case, Dutton said, “It’s not something I can comment on.”

However, the Minister of Defense said that the reality is that China has changed in recent years.

“I see intelligence and there is a lot of work that we, as a National Security Committee, have done over a long period of time on this issue to look at ways we can, frankly, prevent this situation.” Because we do not want any military presence of the Chinese only 1800-2000 kilometers of our coast.

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“Incredibly aggressive China – acts of foreign interference, readiness to pay bribes to achieve results, and get other countries to agree – that is the reality of modern China.”

However, Dutton insisted that the government’s relationship with the Solomons remained strong and Australia was still the country’s preferred partner.

Labor spokeswoman Penny Wong wasn’t so sure.

“No matter how much the government wants to fight, to blame, to say it would happen anyway, I would say this: it happened under their sight,” Sky said.

“We are no longer the first partner we choose for a Pacific island nation, and that is at the expense of Australia’s position in our region.”