China – Solomon Islands sign controversial security treaty
“Officials from the Solomon Islands and China signed off on the framework of bilateral security cooperation between the two countries today.” announcement from Prime Minister Solomon Manasseh Sogavare’s office on March 31 said.
This agreement is currently awaiting the signing of the foreign ministers of the two countries. The agreement raised concerns that it would pave the way for China’s first military presence in the South Pacific.
A draft of the deal, leaked last week, details the deal would allow China to deploy security forces and navy to the Pacific island nation in times of crisis.
“China can conduct ship visits, additional logistics, stops and transits in the Solomon Islands,” he said. The content of the agreement was leaked.
In addition, the agreement will allow the Chinese armed forces to deploy at the request of the Solomon Islands to this island nation to maintain “Social Order”. Beijing’s forces will also be allowed to defend “the safety of Chinese employees” and “major projects in the Solomon Islands”.
The leak of the draft caused a reaction across the region. The United States and Australia have long been concerned about China’s ability to build a naval base in the South Pacific, allowing its navy to project power far beyond its borders.
Any military presence by Beijing could force Canberra and Washington to change their military posture in the region. Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, Australian Defense Force joint operations commander, said the China-Solomon Islands treaty would “change calculation” on Canberra’s activities in the Pacific.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare dismissed criticism of the deal, saying “There is no intention or request from China to build a military base in the Solomon Islands.”
China has increased its presence in the Pacific over the past decade, part of Beijing’s global outreach campaign with developing nations to build economic and security ties.
The Solomon Islands government under Prime Minister Mannesseh Sogavare has tightened ties with Beijing in recent years, including its decision to cut ties with Taiwan and establish ties with China in September 2019.
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