The safety pact permits China to ship police and navy personnel to the Solomon Islands “to assist in maintaining social order,” whereas additionally opening the door for Chinese warships to cease in port there for “logistical replenishment” — giving rise to worries of a potential Chinese naval base on the doorstep of Australia and New Zealand.
But in his tackle to Parliament on Wednesday, Manasseh Sogavare defended the safety settlement as being directed totally to “our internal security situation”.
“I ask all our neighbours, friends and partners to respect the sovereign interest of Solomon Islands on the assurance that the decision will not adversely impact or undermine the peace and harmony of our region,” he instructed parliament.
A draft of the settlement leaked on-line final month, and China’s Foreign Ministry introduced Tuesday that it had been signed “the other day”.
Mr Sogavare was equally obscure, telling lawmakers it had been signed “a few days ago”.
Australia had urged the Solomon Islands to not signal the pact, and despatched Pacific Minister Zed Seselja for talks with Mr Sogavare final week.
Two high American officers — Kurt Campbell, the National Security Council Indo-Pacific coordinator, and Daniel Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs — are to go to the nation this week for talks.
Mr Sogavare has mentioned his authorities wouldn’t let China construct a navy base, and China has denied looking for a navy foothold within the South Pacific.
“Our consistently stated view, including from the perspective of Australia’s national interests, remains that the Pacific family is best placed to meet the security needs of the region,” they mentioned.
“We are concerned about the lack of transparency with which this agreement has been developed, noting its potential to undermine stability in our region.”
They welcomed statements from Mr Sogavare that the “Solomon Islands will never be used for military bases or other military institutions of foreign powers”.
Earlier this week, US State Department spokesman Ned Price mentioned the settlement might destabilise the Solomon Islands and would set a regarding precedent for the broader Pacific area.
“Despite the Solomon Islands government’s comments, the broad nature of the security agreement leaves open the door for the deployment of PRC (People’s Republic of China) military forces to the Solomon Islands,” Mr Price mentioned.
Micronesia and different Pacific Island nations have additionally expressed considerations in regards to the deal, as has the Solomon Islands’ major opposition social gathering.
In his tackle, Mr Sogavare defended the pact, saying it will strengthen the nation’s police and assist them cope with future instability, and that it was “based on mutual respect for sovereignty and in compliance with domestic and international law”.
“Let me assure the people of Solomon Islands that we entered into an arrangement with China with our eyes wide open, guided by our national interests,” he mentioned.