Australia Warns It Won’t Tolerate PLA Bases ‘in Our Region’ as Beijing, Solomon Islands Pen Pact

Solomon Islands - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.04.2022
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Washington has threatened to “respond accordingly” if China moved to establish a permanent military presence on the Solomon Islands, the Pacific island nation, situated about 1,500 km northeast of Australia and over 9,200 km southwest of the US West Coast. Beijing and Honiara signed a defence pact last week.
A Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands would constitute a “red line” for Australia, its neighbours, and the United States, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said.
“This is a shared concern, not just Australia, it’s Australia and regional governments, particularly places like Fiji and Papua New Guinea”, Morrison said Sunday while out campaigning in Australia’s Northern Territory ahead of federal elections scheduled for next month.

“Working together with our partners in New Zealand and of course the United States, I share the same red line that the United States when it comes to these issues. We will not have Chinese military naval bases in our region around the corner”, Morrison stressed.

The Australian PM added that the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare “clearly shares our red line”, and would not allow the People’s Liberation Army to build any sort of base in his country.
In this Wednesday, July 24, 2019, photo, Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton addresses Parliament House in Canberra - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.04.2022
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Honiara and Beijing inked a security pact last week, with Prime Minister Sogavare saying it was his “honour and privilege” to announce the deal, and that his government had “entered into [the] arrangement with China with our eyes open, guided by our national interests”.
The details of the arrangement have yet to be made public. However, a draft version of the treaty leaked in March mentioned granting Chinese security forces the right to deploy in the Solomon Islands at the government’s request to “assist in maintaining social order.” Chinese warships were also given the right to make port call visits to the islands in the draft agreement.
The island nation of 700,000 was overwhelmed with riots last November after Honiara moved to cut off relations with Taiwan in favour of the People’s Republic. A range of other grievances, including unemployment and poverty, Covid-linked border closures, and long-standing ethnic gripes, poured fuel on the fire. The riots included the targeting of Chinese citizens and businesses.
Morrison’s coalition Liberal-National Coalition government has faced intense criticism over the Chinese-Solomon Islands security agreement, with Labour lawmakers blasting his Cabinet for failing to treat the matter with urgency after reports emerged late last year that Beijing and Honiara were engaged in talks.
A building burns in Chinatown, in the capital city of Honiara, Solomon Islands, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.04.2022
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Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wong has claimed that a Labor government “wouldn’t have cut foreign and development assistance” to Australia’s neighbours, including the Solomon Islands, and “wouldn’t have mocked Pacific Island nations about water lapping at their doors which is what [Defence Minister] Peter Dutton did standing next to Scott Morrison. And we wouldn’t have thumbed our nose at Pacific leaders when they told us at a forum that climate change was their number one national security issue.”
Wong called the diplomatic defeat to the Chinese in the Solomon Islands “the worst policy failure in the Pacific” since the Second World War.
US officials have joined Canberra in expressing “concerns” about the Solomon Islands’ pact with China, with a high-level delegation of American officials visiting the country on Friday for the first time in years for meetings with Prime Minister Sogavare.
Last month, Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo warned Honiara that he could not “endorse or agree if your decision is to proceed with a security relationship with the People’s Republic of China, because of its far-reaching and grave security implications for our harmonious and peaceful Blue Pacific Continent”.
A display case of photos is seen outside Chinese Embassy in Honiara, Solomon Islands, Saturday, April 2, 2022. Seeking to counter international fears over its new security alliance with China, the Solomon Islands said it won't allow China to build a military base there.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.04.2022
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