China Signs Wide-Ranging Security Pact With Solomon Islands
China says it has signed a wide-ranging security pact with the Solomon Islands, just hours after the U.S. announced it was sending officials to the South Pacific nation amid concerns Beijing could establish a military foothold there.
A provision of a draft version of the agreement, which leaked last month, raised alarm as it allowed Chinese security and naval deployments to the Solomon Islands, a country of about 700,000 people that in recent months has faced political and social unrest.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday (April 19) “the foreign ministers of China and the Solomon Islands officially signed the framework agreement on security cooperation recently,” without providing details on the final version of the agreement.
According to the leaked draft, armed Chinese police could be deployed at the Solomon Islands’ request to maintain “social order,” although Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has repeatedly said he does not intend to allow China to build a military base there.
The words have done little to allay US concerns.
The signing of the pact “could increase destabilization within the Solomon Islands and will set a concerning precedent for the wider Pacific Island region,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Source: Al Jazeera
U.S. Officials Headed to Solomon Islands Amid China Concerns
Senior Biden administration officials will visit the Solomon Islands this week amid US concerns over the Pacific island nation’s plans to sign a security pact with China.
The White House’s National Security Council’s Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell and the State Department’s top Asia official, Daniel Kritenbrink, will be leading a delegation of officials from the Pentagon and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The trip will include stops in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. “The delegation will meet with senior government officials to ensure our partnerships deliver prosperity, security, and peace across the Pacific Islands and the Indo-Pacific,” the National Security Council said in a statement.
The Solomon Islands’ plans to sign a security pact with China have come under heavy criticism from Australia.