The recent agreement signed between the Solomon Islands and China on April 1 sparked international concern after it was revealed that the South Pacific island nation would allow Beijing to establish a military base there.

According to AP, In this context, the United States and Australia are on alert, considering this military presence a threat to the region.

A day before signing the agreement, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja traveled to the Solomon Islands and met with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to prevent him from signing the agreement with China, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday.

“We have asked Solomon Islands respectfully to consider not signing the agreement and to consult the Pacific family in the spirit of regional openness and transparency, consistent with our region’s security frameworks.”

That same day, U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman contacted Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele to propose Washington’s plan to reopen an embassy in the capital, Honiara.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the reopening of an embassy in the Solomon Islands is necessary before China is “strongly embedded.”

Since the agreement was signed, two senior Australian intelligence officials, Australian Secret Intelligence Service chief Paul Symon and Director General of the Office of National Intelligence Andrew Shearer, have met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Morrison said the latest meetings between Australia and the Solomon Islands were to raise with him the “the risks and the security matters that are not only of concern to Australia but islands—Pacific nations across the Pacific.”

In 2019, China announced its intentions to increase its military cooperation in the Pacific. At that time, the Solomon Islands abandoned diplomatic relations with Taiwan to join China’s plans, Reuters reported.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Chinese navy ships could dock 2,000 kilometers off the Australian coast, which would drain Australian navy resources and threaten shipping routes from Australia’s east coast to Asia in the event of a conflict.

Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused Australian media of “smearing China through groundless attacks.”

According to AP, he added that other countries “should view this in an objective and reasonable manner, respect the sovereignty and independent decision of China and the Solomon Islands.” 

Following the agreement, Chinese warships could stop in the Solomon Islands for “logistical replenishment,” and China could send police, military personnel, and other armed forces to the Solomon Islands “to assist in maintaining social order,” according to a written draft of the agreement released in late March.

In addition, China would have authority over the information disclosed in security agreements between the two countries.

The Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands would threaten the security of Australia, New Zealand, and the island of Guam.

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