Vanuatu PM visits Huawei, views police technology

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(Reuters) – Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has visited technology company Huawei in Shenzhen and viewed surveillance technology used to improve policing and curb criminal activity, his office said in a statement on Tuesday.

Salwai is visiting China and then travelling to Japan next week for a meeting of Pacific Island leaders.

China is Vanuatu’s largest external creditor and a major infrastructure provider. Vanuatu’s biggest aid donor and police partner Australia has expressed concern about China’s security ambitions in the Pacific Islands region after Beijing struck a deal with Vanuatu last year over police equipment and a security pact with the Solomon Islands.

Huawei supplied digital systems to cities including Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, to “curb criminal activities,” according to a statement from the Vanuatu government on social media.

The police surveillance system required a data centre in Vanuatu, it added. It was not clear whether the Huawei police surveillance system was already in use in Port Vila, or whether it was being considered.

A spokesperson for the Vanuatu Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Vanuatu has a population of approximately 300,000 spread across the archipelago, of which approximately 50,000 live in the capital, Port Vila.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Michael Perry)

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