Canberra, Australia: (AB) – Australia and the United States have stepped up diplomatic efforts in the Solomon Islands following China’s signing of a security agreement with China that could lead to the establishment of a military presence in the South Pacific island nation of Beijing.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison flew to the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, the day before his Minister of International Development and Pacific Zed Seselja arrived in the Solomon Islands the day before to hold talks with Prime Minister Manasseh Chowdhury on the country’s agreed defense agreement with China.
Cezalza said he had asked Sokavare to drop the Chinese deal.
“We respectfully request the Solomon Islands not to sign this agreement and to consult with the Pacific family in the spirit of regional transparency and transparency, in line with our regional security framework,” Seselja said in a statement.
The visit comes on the same day that US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke with Washington’s Secretary of State Jeremiah Manuel about Washington’s plans to reopen its embassy in the capital, Honolulu.
Notice of reopening of the EmbassyClosed since 1993, the defense deal came in February before it came to light, but amid already growing concerns about Chinese influence in the country of strategic importance.
A Chinese military presence in the Solomon Islands would place not only on the doorstep of Australia and New Zealand, but also in the vicinity of Guam, which has its massive U.S. military bases.
At the time of announcing the reopening of the embassy, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the United States was seeking to increase its influence in the Solomon Islands “before China was” strongly embedded “.
State Department spokesman Nate Price said the call between Sherman and Manel touched on “our joint efforts to expand and deepen engagement between our countries” in addition to diplomatic projects, but did not provide further details.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing’s cooperation with Solomon was based on the principle of “mutual respect and mutual benefit” and in accordance with international law and international practice.
“It is conducive to the social stability and lasting peace and security of the Solomon Islands and will help promote peace, stability and development in the Solomon Islands and the South Pacific region,” Zhao told a news conference on Wednesday.
“Security cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands does not target any third party or act against the Solomon Islands’ cooperation with other countries, but will positively complement the Exit Regional Cooperation mechanism,” he said.
Other nations must “look at this objectively and fairly, respect the sovereignty and independence of China and the Solomon Islands, avoid conflicts and create divisions in the region, and do something conducive to regional stability and development.”
According to a draft agreement leaked online, Chinese warships could be stationed in the Solomons for “logistics replenishment” and China could send police, military and other armed forces to the Solomons to “maintain social order”.
The draft agreement stipulates that China must approve the release of information on joint security arrangements, including press conferences.
The Solomon Islands government said the draft was launched two weeks ago Also it will be “cleaned” and finished soon.
The Solomon Islands government has said it will not allow China to build a military base in China and has refused to seek military action In the South Pacific, but the agreement raised the alarm bells among many Western nations.
Since the signing, two top Australian intelligence officials – Paul Simon, head of the Australian Secret Service and the office of Director General of National Intelligence Andrew Shearer – have met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sokavare.
Australia already has a bilateral security agreement with the Solomon Islands and Australian police peacekeepers have been in the capital, Hon’ble, since the November riots.
Morrison said Australia was respectfully and directly contacting the Solomon Islands over China’s defense deal.
“It seems like some people are saying that the Solomon Islands are somehow under the control of Australia, which is detrimental to the Solomon Islands,” Morrison said.
“They are a sovereign nation. I respect their freedom and they will make their own decisions about their own sovereignty, ”he said.
“What we are doing is making sure they are fully aware of the risks and security issues of concern not only to Australia but to the islands, Pacific nations across the Pacific,” he added.
Chezelja said Chokaver’s statements were welcomed by Australia and his determination that the Solomon Islands is a “security partner of choice, and that the Solomon Islands will never be used for military bases or other military entities of foreign powers.”
Morrison announced Sunday that elections will be held in Australia on May 21. He now leads a caretaker government and must consult the opposition on any policy decisions.
Opposition spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong said the Australian government had failed in the Solomon Islands.
“This is happening under the watchful eye of Mr Morrison – the warnings have been in place for several months and the draft agreement has been in place for several weeks – but he has failed to explain how he is moving forward and how Australia is responding,” Wong said in a statement.
“We need to work with the Pacific family and allies to create an area where sovereignty is respected – and Australia is the partner of choice,” he added.