Australia's minister arrives in Solomon Islands to lobby against security pact with China
An Australian government minister has arrived in the Solomon Islands to pressure officials in the sovereign country not to sign a security pact with China.
On Wednesday, Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja arrived in Honiara for two days of talks with officials.
“My discussions will include the proposed Solomon Islands-China security agreement,” Seselja said in a statement. “We respect the right of Solomon Islands to make sovereign decisions about its national security,” he claimed.
After arriving at Honiara’s airport, Seselja had written on Twitter that, “Australia will continue to be a transparent and respectful partner.”
A draft security pact between China and the Solomon Islands, which was revealed last month, has sparked agitated reactions from Western countries, which say Beijing aims to expand its footing in the region by building a military base on the islands.
The concerns come even though Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has said his government has “no intention whatsoever... to ask China to build a military base” in his country.
Situated in Oceania, the Solomon Islands was engulfed in unrest and riots in November 2021.
China said late last year that it would send police advisers and riot gear to the Solomon Islands, which is among the latest countries to have cut ties with Chinese Taipei in favor of Beijing.
China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty. The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island but has long courted Taipei in an attempt to unnerve Beijing.