Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned China that establishing a military base on Australia’s ‘doorstep’ would be a ‘red line’ after Beijing signed a new security agreement with the Solomon Islands.
Morrison’s warning came after two top diplomats to the archipelagic state visited the Solomon Islands earlier this week for crisis talks with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, urging the leader to resist Chinese pressure to erect a military base.
On Friday, White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink warned Sogavare that the move would risk stability in the Pacific.
However, Sogavare said he had created diplomatic ties with China three years ago ‘for very, very good reasons.’
Meanwhile, Chinese ambassador Li Ming called for other countries to respect the two nations’ agreement.
“I sincerely hope the sovereignty and security interests of the Solomon Islands and China will be duly respected. The Pacific region should become a stage for international co-operation, not geopolitical competition,” Li Ming said.
The alliance has sparked fears China would act swiftly in setting up a military base less than 2,000km from Australian shores, with experts predicting armed forces could arrive on the island within weeks.
Foreign affairs minister Marisa Payne and Seselja said they were “deeply disappointed by the pact and would ‘seek further clarity on the terms of the agreement and its consequences for the Pacific region.”
© Fourth Estate
® — All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.