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>> It's shaping up as a new battle for the Pacific in the Internet age. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced a plan to spend $113 million across the Indo Pacific on Monday. And, on Tuesday, Australia and Japan announced they'd be joining the US to invest across the region.
Analysts say it's all in the hope of edging out a diplomatic push across the Pacific from China. And one front in the battle is opening up over who in the region gets access to high speed Internet cables. The cables primarily run across the Pacific from the US West Coast.
But Beijing appears to be trying to develop relationships here by offering connections to its own networks. And now US ally Australia is pushing back with cables of it's own. Australia is planning to spend nearly $70 million to connect high speed Internet hubs on its East Coast with Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
And as Reuters' Tom Westbrook reports from Sydney, the deal shows how sensitive regional powers are to China's rising influence. Australia went out and promised this project immediately after a Chinese company, Huawei, had made a similar offer. Australia was very keen to get ahead of Huawei to prevent them from plugging into a big Internet hub.
But it also Illustrates neatly just how sensitive Australia is about China.>> It may be good regional strategy, but for Australia, the big spend is not playing well at home.>> Australia is rolling out its own broadband network, but its been underwhelming, it's over-butchered, it's behind schedule. The Australians are pretty unimpressed.
>> Chinese aid spending across the Pacific has increased significantly in recent years. A Reuters report released Tuesday showed China's lending to 11 South Pacific nations has risen to more than $1.3 billion over the past decades.