Australia Mulling Hefty Aid Injection for Lower Mekong Nations

The Australian government is reportedly preparing to bolster its aid programs in Southeast Asia, as concern in Canberra mounts about China’s growing influence in the region. According to an October 12 report in The Age, Australia is finalizing a Southeast Asian aid package that would inject of hundreds of millions of dollars into the region over the next four years.

The government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of shortchanging Southeast Asia to pay for its recent $3 billion pledge to island nations in the Pacific, which Australia has long viewed as its strategic backyard. Admitting that Australia had often taken the Pacific island nations for granted, his “step-up in the Pacific” is designed to compete with China infrastructure-building spree in the region, under its Belt and Road Initiative.

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Sebastian Strangio