The Solomon Islands have said they will not allow China to build a military base as it seeks to counter international fears about its new security alliance with China.
But this persistence will do little to ease concerns about the pact from the country’s traditional partners, which include New ZealandAustralia and the United States.
The leader of the Micronesia added his voice to those who expressed concern, citing the bloody battles of World War II and warning that the treaty could see again that the South Pacific would become a battlefield for much larger states.
The Solomon Islands government said Thursday that a draft agreement on a new security pact has been initialed by representatives of Solomon Islands and China and would be “cleaned up” and signed.
In a statement Friday, the Solomon Islands government said that “contrary to the misinformation promoted by anti-government commentators,” the agreement does not invite China to establish a military base.
“The government is aware of the security implications of the location of the military base, and it will not be reckless in allowing such an initiative to take place under its supervision,” the statement said.
The statement seemed to rule out more strongly the possibility of setting up a base after Prime Minister Manasse Sogaware had previously told parliament he did not intend to ask China to build a base.
Sogavar said that his nation strives only for peace and prosperity, referring to its foreign policy mantra: “We are friends for all and not enemies of anyone.” He said it was not a secret deal but a sovereign issue.
Under the terms of the draft agreement, China can send police, military and other armed forces to Solomon Islands “to help maintain public order” and for a number of other reasons. He could also send warships to the islands to stop and replenish supplies, leading to speculation about China’s establishment of a naval base in the south. islands of the pacific ocean.
Micronesian President David Panuela wrote a letter to Sogawara stating that Micronesia had “serious security concerns” because of the “bulk and unprecedented” agreement.
He said the two small countries became a battlefield during World War II and that this could happen again if China, the US and Australia declare themselves in the region.
“And is it likely that once the spheres are cut down, our concern for climate change – today’s problem – will manifest itself in too real a concern for war in our backyards, with our people, our islands, as a playground for children playing as adults? » Panuela wrote to Sogawara.
Australian Defense Secretary Peter Dathan said on Friday that despite respect for Solomon’s sovereignty, the agreement showed that China is acting aggressively in the region.
“We need to be very careful here because the Chinese are incredibly aggressive, and the tactics they use in the small island nations are great,” he told Sky News.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week described the possibility of deploying Chinese troops in the Solomon Islands as a “potential militarization of the region”.
And the U.S. State Department said Washington does not believe Chinese security forces and methods should be exported.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday that “the relevant parties should consider cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands objectively and rationally and stop making irresponsible statements.”
“Attempts to provoke, hinder and undermine China’s friendly relations with the island nations are not popular and will not succeed,” Wang told reporters at a daily briefing.
“Cooperation between China and Solomon Islands is not aimed at any third parties and is not in conflict with Solomon Islands cooperation with other countries. But it positively complements the existing mechanisms of regional cooperation, ”he added.
The Solomon Islands, home to about 700,000 people, shifted its diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019 – contributing to riots last November among residents of various islands in the country.
Australian police are based in the capital, Haniari, and have since maintained peace under a bilateral security treaty established in 2017. It provides the legal basis for the rapid deployment of Australian police, troops and related civilians in the event of a serious security problem.
Chinese police are already on the islands and conducting a training mission.
About 100,000 people live in the Federated States of Micronesia. He has diplomatic relations and considers himself a “friend” of China, as well as has close relations with the United States under the Free Association Agreement.