Australia concerned over security deal between China, Solomon Islands

Australia concerned over security deal between China, Solomon Islands

Sydney, Australia, March 25 (EFE).- Australia said it was concerned Friday about a possible security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands that would allow Beijing to establish a naval base in the island nation and send its forces to maintain order on request.

Referring to the draft pact, published Thursday on social media, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton told Australian channel Nine that the government would “clearly be concerned about the establishment of any base military.”

Dutton said he would tell the government of the Solomon Islands, a strategic nation in the South Pacific about 2,000 kilometers from the northeastern coast of Australia and which was the scene of fighting during World War II.

The minister said his country and allies want “peace and stability” in the pacific and prevent “China’s pressure and effort from continuing to be deployed in this region.

The deal, which if finalized would give Australia a close strategic adversary for the first time since World War II, calls for the Chinese Navy to dock, refuel and make stops in the Solomon Islands, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

In return, the Honiara government can ask Beijing to send armed police, military personnel and other security and armed forces “to help maintain social order and protect the life and property of the population,” the newspaper added.

Commenting on the potential deal, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters Friday in Sydney that his country would continue to support the Solomon Islands and lead the region through development cooperation.

Without mentioning China directly, Morrison said that although “there are others who may pretend to influence and try to get some kind of foothold in the region,” his government is aware of this, adding that they are not “completely immune to these risks.”

Australia, which is holding general elections in May, has been a historical partner of the Solomon Islands, which in November was the scene of violent protests to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who in 2019 changed his alliance with Taiwan to support China.

The islands were the scene of ethnic disputes between 1998 and 2003 pitting rival armed groups that terrorized the nation, causing more than 200 deaths and thousands of displaced people.

These clashes forced the deployment between 2003 and 2013 of the Regional Assistance Mission for the Solomon Islands, led by Australia. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button