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Possibility of China having its first TBD base through a security agreement with Solomon

Photo captions
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left) and his counterpart Solomon Manasseh Sogavare at a welcome ceremony in Beijing 2019. Photo: AP

Both China and the United States are increasing their diplomatic and military presence in the Pacific by committing to agreements with countries in the region.

According to Sputnik, a proposed “security cooperation” agreement between China and the Solomon Islands leaked recently, including provisions, allowing Chinese ships to “carry out logistics, stopover or transit” in the Pacific country.

The document states that “relevant Chinese forces can be mobilized to protect major projects as well as ensure the safety of the Chinese people” on the Solomon Islands. Under the proposed agreement, the Solomons government. may require Beijing to deploy police, military and other law enforcement units in the archipelago to carry out humanitarian and security missions.

Dr. Anna Powles, New Zealand expert on Pacific geopolitics, said that signing the security treaty means that the Chinese military has equipment and supplies available in the Solomons. Experts assess this can be considered as a “base” of China in the Solomon Islands, marking Beijing’s first military base in the Pacific region.

The draft security agreement comes as relations between the Solomon Islands and China appear increasingly strong. China is Solomon’s largest trading partner and enjoys duty-free access to 97% of the archipelago’s exports.

In January 2021, Prime Minister Solomon Manasseh Sogavare asked Chinese riot police to quell violent protests in the capital, Honiara. The Sogavare leader claimed the riots were “incited from abroad”.

According to a government statement, police and soldiers from several other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, were involved in stopping the violent protests. However, at the time, Australian defense officials expressed displeasure when Honiara asked Beijing for security assistance, saying the move could be the start of security aid operations. from China in the future.

For its part, in a Pentagon report last year, Washington is in the process of strengthening US military facilities as well as participating in a race for influence between Pacific island nations with Beijing. . Currently, the US is negotiating the content of the Agreement of Free Association (COFA) with the 3 Republics of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.

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