- BBC News World
Australia, New Zealand and the United States have expressed concern about the security situation in the Pacific region, after China signed an agreement with the Solomon Islands that includes defense assistance.
The two countries signed the agreement this week, which fuels Concerns that China may try to build a naval base In this Pacific Island State.
Solomon Islands has rejected recent efforts by Australia, the largest aid donor, to block the deal.
The country’s prime minister, Manasseh Sogavari, argued that the new treaty “will not undermine peace and harmony” in the region.
The Solomon Islands leader added that the deal does not target traditional allies, but rather targets “our internal security situation”.
He did not reveal the terms of the agreement, but insisted that it came “with eyes wide open, guided by our national interests.”
Chinese warships and troops
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaya Mahuta also expressed her disappointment with the deal.
In addition, the agreement was revealed days before the US Under Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, is due to visit the Solomon Islands, for high-level talks.
These conversations are expected to be related to US security concerns about the escalation of the military presence from C.hina in the region.
The United States has announced that it will reopen its embassy in the Solomon Islands, which has been closed since 1993.
According to a leaked draft of the agreement, which has been verified by the Australian government, the agreement states that Chinese warships will be able to dock in the islands and that Beijing Security forces can be sent “To help maintain social order.”
In recent years there have been many social upheavals in the Solomon Islands.
In November, the Australian government sent its Defense Force personnel to help quell bloody riots in the capital, Honiara, after protesters stormed Parliament in an attempt to oust Sugavari.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the final agreement retains the provisions for “maintaining social order.”
‘Australia’s worst foreign policy failure’
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Pacific Minister Zed Sesilga called the newly signed agreement “extremely disappointing” and said they were “concerned about the lack of transparency with which this deal was developed”.
“Our unchanging view, even from the perspective of Australia’s national interests, remains so The Pacific Family is in the best position to meet the security needs of the regionThey claimed in a joint statement.
The Australian Labor opposition called it “the worst failure of Australian foreign policy in the Pacific” in 80 years.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is currently campaigning for re-election – partly focused on national security – has denied the deal was evidence that his government had spoiled diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands.
He added that he could not turn around “to tell the leaders of the Pacific islands what they should and should not do.”
However, Morrison said his country would not have a “submissive relationship” with China, which he said has made “all kinds of promises” to Pacific nations.
“We have always held our position against China because it is in our interest,” Morrison told reporters on Wednesday.
For her part, the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated that her country is “sad” for the agreement signed by the Solomon Islands.
The Solomon Islands had already announced early last month that it was in the process of drafting a security agreement with China.
This was of particular concern to Australia, which is located 2,000 kilometers south of the Solomon Islands. The country has also seen its tensions with China rise in recent years.
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