Pentagon says China security treaty
At a press conference on April 14, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said:We believe that the conclusion of such an agreement would indeed increase instability in the Solomon Islands and could set a similar precedent for the vast Pacific island nations. Obviously we’re concerned about this.”
The move is raising concerns among foreign policy experts that the Solomon Islands could become the site of a Chinese military presence in the South Pacific, posing a threat to Australia.
On March 30, China’s Foreign Ministry said that China and the Solomon Islands had “signed a framework agreement” on bilateral security cooperation.
The leaked draft agreement said China would be allowed to deploy security forces and navy to the Pacific island nation during a crisis. China can also conduct ship visits, additional logistics, stops and transits in the Solomon Islands.
In addition, the agreement will allow the Chinese armed forces to deploy at the request of the Solomon Islands to the island nation to maintain “social order”. Beijing’s forces will also be allowed to protect “the safety of Chinese personnel” and “major projects in the Solomon Islands”.
Australia has been stepping up efforts to prevent the Solomon Islands from officially signing this agreement with China. Canberra sent Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja to the Solomon Islands to discuss the issue.
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.
The administration of President Joe Biden is seeking to push back against China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific. In February, the US announced a plan to open an embassy in the Solomon Islands to strengthen cooperation with partners on the Pacific island chain. Previously, the US had an embassy in the capital, Honiara, but it was closed in 1993.
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