Suva, Fiji (AP) — Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavale said Thursday that a new security agreement with Beijing in his country would allow China to build a military base in a South Pacific country and “potentially” his citizens. He said he would not allow it to be the target of a military attack.
Sogavare Reached an agreement with Beijing We will provide security support in April. Details of the agreement have not been released, but the agreement raises concerns about permanent Chinese military installations within 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) of the northeastern coast of Australia.
He used Thursday’s meeting of leaders of the Pacific island nations in Fiji to strongly deny that his country would become a base for Chinese troops in the South Pacific.
“The moment we set up a foreign military base, we quickly become enemies, and we also put our country and our people as targets of potential military attacks. Sogavale told reporters in the capital, Suva.
“There are no military bases or other military facilities or institutions in the agreement, and that’s a very important point we keep telling families in the area,” he added.
Sogavale told Congress in May that opponents of the Chinese agreement threatened and insulted his country without appointing Australia, the United States or Solomon’s main security partner.
Both the United States and Australia have told the Solomon Islands that countries hosting China’s military bases would be unacceptable.
New Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese The government has since been elected with a promise of more assistance and involvement with its neighbors on the country’s islands.
Sogavale greeted Albanese in a hug on Wednesday at the first face-to-face meeting in Suva during the Pacific Islands Forum summit. The forum was previously a gathering of 18 island nations. Kiribati withdrew this week..
Albanese described the conference as “very constructive,” stressing that “Australia’s interests would not be useful by having a military base very close to somewhere in Australia.”
“We welcome his (Sogavale) comments denying that there is an Australian (nearby) Chinese base,” Albanese said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a meeting Wednesday that he had frankly talked with Sogavale about concerns about China’s agreement. She said the two leaders found “common grounds” for the need to limit the militarization of the region.
The summit is immersed in geopolitical tensions between China and the United States, both showing growing strategic interest in the region.
Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who chaired the summit, told fellow leaders in his opening remarks that “the global and geopolitical situation is very competitive.”
“We are seeing the emergence of multipolar systems, and we urge them to shape a world in their favor,” Bainimarama said.
Bainimarama invited US Vice President Kamala Harris to give a virtual speech on Wednesday. Her invitation was noteworthy given that her dialogue partners in forums, including the United States, China, the United Kingdom and France, have not been invited to this year’s summit.
Harris proposed a new embassy The province of Micronesia split from the forum this week in Tonga and Kiribati.
She also requested the US Congress to triple the funding to support the fishery for $ 60 million annually and proposed that the forum be appointed as the first US envoy.
Two Chinese embassy defenses watching Harris’ speech from the media were discovered by journalists and reported to police. The police asked them to leave, Guardian reported..
When the media asked if Chinese officials were allowed to attend, forum officials did not answer.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry saw Harris’ speech and said the two did not break the rules.
“Chinese representatives were invited to attend related conferences and events,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Solomon Islands and Kiribati have recently transferred their diplomatic awareness from Taiwan to Beijing. The withdrawal of Kiribati from the forum is interpreted as a deepening of China’s influence in the region.