On Friday, Australia’s defence minister said, China’s move to establish a military base in Solomon Islands would be of concern since it is a neighbouring island.
The development comes in the wake of a draft security document between Beijing and Honiara being leaked online.
The potential arrangement would allow the Chinese military to park its military assets in Australia’s neighbourhood. Already Canberra has pulled up Beijing for allowing a Chinese navy ship to sail through its exclusive northern economic zone.
“We would be concerned, clearly, at any military base being established and we would express that to the Solomon Islands government,” said Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton. “We want peace and stability in the region. We don’t want unsettling influences and we don’t want pressure and coercion that we are seeing from China continuing to roll out in the region.”
The draft agreement would allow Chinese naval vessels, including intelligence ships to park at Honiara.
“When you’ve got a country that is as close to Australia’s own territorial shores as the Solomon Islands … this is a big change in Australia’s immediate strategic environment,” said former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
He went on to add, “Canberra had adhered to a doctrine for decades, under the ANZUS treaty with the United States, to keep Pacific island countries compatible with Australian and U.S. security interests”.
($1 = 1.3317 Australian dollars)
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