Australia, New Zealand Unsettled Over Solomon Islands China Military Deal

The governments of Australia and New Zealand have expressed concern about the impact of a military deal between China and the Solomon Islands, on regional security after a draft document outlining proposed cooperation was leaked.

The Solomon Islands government confirmed it was “diversifying the country’s security partnership including with China”, and would sign off several agreements with Beijing “to further create a secure and safe environment for local and foreign investments.”

The proposed security arrangements with China would cover humanitarian needs besides maintaining the rule of law.

“There are others who may seek to pretend to influence and may seek to get some sort of hold in the region and we are very conscious of that,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

The Solomon Islands has signed a policing deal with China and will send a proposal for a broader security agreement covering the military to its cabinet for consideration, a Solomon Islands official said on Thursday.

“We would be concerned clearly about any military base being established and we would express that to the Solomon Islands government,” Defence Minister Peter Dutton said emphasizing the close relationship between Australia and the Solomons.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said that Pacific partners should be transparent in their actions.

“Such agreements will always be the right of any sovereign country to enter into, however developments within this purported agreement could destabilize the current institutions and arrangements that have long underpinned the Pacific region’s security,” Mahuta said.

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