Australian PM ‘guarantees’ no Chinese base in Solomon Islands

China’s increasing influence in the Pacific has become a contentious political topic in Australia ahead of the May 21 elections. During a tense pre-election debate, Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised that Australia will cooperate with its friends to prevent China from establishing a military facility in the Solomon Islands.

Following Beijing’s declaration last month that it had inked a security deal with the Solomon Islands leadership, China’s rising weight in the Pacific has become a hot political topic in Australia ahead of the May 21 elections.

Although the China-Solomons agreement has not been made public, a leaked document has frightened governments in the area, notably passages that authorize Chinese naval deployments to the Solomon Islands, which are less than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Australia.

The prime minister has warned that constructing a Chinese military facility in the Solomon Islands would be a major mistake. When asked what the red line meant during the Sunday discussion, Morrison said: “Australia will engage with allies to ensure that such a result is avoided.”

Morrison also cautioned against speculating on what actions Australia would take to prevent a military installation from being built on the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands administration has made it plain to us that this is not a result they want or support. He stated, “I feel that having such a presence is not in their national interest.”

Morrison’s conservative administration is in second place behind the opposition.

In a televised discussion, opposition Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese called the security accord a tremendous foreign policy disaster. Marise Payne, Australia’s foreign minister, met with her Solomon Islands colleague in Brisbane on Friday night, expressing Australia’s profound concern about the deal and its lack of transparency.

Jeremiah Manele, the Solomons’ foreign minister, reassured her, though, that Australia remained the Pacific state’s preferred ally. Manasseh Sogavare, the Solomon Islands’ prime minister, has responded fiercely to Australian and US criticism of the China pact.

Sogavare lamented a lack of confidence among relevant parties, stressing that the China agreement was nothing to worry about. The head of the island state addressed his legislature.

To put it another way, Mr. Speaker, we are under attack. And the prime minister stated that this is a serious matter. We’re being treated like kindergarten pupils with Colt 45s in our hands, and as a result, we need to be watched, he continued.

Morrison has disputed that Australia is threatening to invade, arguing that his government has handled its Pacific partners equally while encouraging a calm and collected response to the situation.

In September 2019, the Solomon Islands administration cut ties with Taiwan in favor of diplomatic relations with China, a move that drew Chinese investment but inflamed inter-island rivalry.

Protests against Sogavare’s administration in Honiara erupted into rioting last November, with much of the city’s Chinatown set ablaze. A multinational delegation led by Australia

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