Solomon Islands: China deal in Pacific stokes Australian fears
By The BBC
20 April 2022
Australia, New Zealand and the US have raised concerns on security in the Pacific, after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands.
The deal was signed this week, fuelling fears China may seek to build a naval base in the Pacific nation.
The Solomon Islands had rebuffed last ditch efforts by Australia – its biggest aid donor – to stop the deal.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the pact would not “undermine peace and harmony” in the region.
The Solomon Islands leader added that the pact was not aimed at traditional allies but “rather at our own internal security situation”.
He did not disclose the pact’s terms, but insisted it was made “with our eyes wide open, guided by our national interests”.
A leaked draft of the agreement, which was verified by the Australian government, said Chinese warships would be permitted dock on the islands and that Beijing could send security forces “to assist in maintaining social order”.
The islands have been rife with social unrest in recent years and in November the Australian government sent personnel from its defence forces to help quell deadly riots in the capital Honiara, sparked after protesters stormed parliament in a bid to topple Mr Sogavare.
A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry confirmed on Tuesday that the final agreement had retained the provisions on “maintaining social order”.