Documents advocate plans for Chinese military expansion, presence in Solomon Islands

On Thursday, ABC-Australia states that leaked documents show that a new security agreement was being negotiated between China and the Solomon Islands to land a military presence has created fear in Australia.

The draft document, which emerged on social media on Thursday, lays down a framework which could permit Beijing to deploy forces to “protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in Solomon Islands”.

ABC-Australia further reported:

The agreement says Solomon Islands may “request China to send police, armed police, military personnel and other law enforcement and armed forces” to the country.

It also states that China’s government may “make ship visits, to carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in Solomon Islands”. Trade Minister Dan Tehan told the ABC’s Q+A program the government was worried the document could undermine the sovereignty of Solomon Islands.

“What we’ve always wanted to ensure and we’ve done this through our Pacific Step-Up is to make sure everything we’re doing is enhancing the sovereignty of Pacific nations, to make sure everything we’re doing is to help and support them when it comes to their sovereignty,” he said.

“All the assistance that we’ve given is absolutely in their national interests. We’re concerned that that isn’t the case in this situation. Obviously it’s just developing today, so we’re trying to get more detail around it. But it is a concerning development.”

The ABC has verified the document is genuine. It is believed to have been recently drawn up but not yet formally signed by both governments, although the ABC has not yet confirmed this.

It is also unclear if this draft version of the document will be the one taken to Solomon Islands’ cabinet.

It was first published online by an adviser to the Malaita Provincial Government Premier Daniel Suidani, who has been a fierce critic of Solomon Islands’ decision to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan and who has been pressing for independence for his province.

Australian officials are already deeply uneasy about growing security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands.

Read more here at ABC-Australia.


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