(TheLibertyRevolution.com)- It was reported last week that the Solomon Islands would expand its security relationship with China, prompting alarm from several countries, including the United States and Australia, which have become concerned over China’s expanding reach in the region.
Australian media also reported last week that Beijing is planning to build a military base in the Solomons, giving it its first base in the region. However, the Solomon Islands prime minister has denied the report.
Australia has enjoyed significant influence among the Pacific Islands for decades, providing significant financial aid to the region. The Solomon Islands has an existing security agreement with Australia which allows Australian police, defense, and civilian personnel to deploy to the islands in the event of security threats.
But in recent years, China has invested billions, making it a major player in the region.
In a statement last Friday, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s office confirmed that the government was working on a deal with China “to further create a secure and safe environment for local and foreign investments.” The statement also reiterated that the Solomon Islands would continue its security agreement with Australia as it develops and deepens its relationship with other nations, “including with China.”
After Friday’s statement from Sogavare’s office, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton expressed concern that a security arrangement with Beijing could eventually lead to an expansion of China’s military into the region.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Friday that while this latest development doesn’t come as a surprise, it is “a reminder of the constant pressure and threats” to both Australia’s national security and the region as a whole.
The government of New Zealand released a statement on Tuesday condemning the possible agreement, arguing that the possible pact would risk destabilizing the region.
Faced with blowback from his neighbors, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Sogavare defended his country’s possible deal with China, calling the objections “very insulting.”
Sogavare told the Parliament that the government’s approach to security was not done “without due consideration to all our partners.” He explained that the Security Treaty with China was made at the request of the Solomon Islands and China did not pressure them in any way.
Sogavare also reiterated that both Australia and New Zealand remain vital bilateral partners with the Solomon Islands.