China's Base in Salomon Island A Threat To Australia
The potential for Chinese military vessels to be based in Australia’s neighbourhood has sparked alarm in Canberra.
Australia’s defence minister said on Friday any move to establish a Chinese military base in neighbouring Solomon Islands would be concerning, after a draft security document between Beijing and Honiara was leaked online.
Media confirmed with a Solomon Islands government official on Thursday that a security treaty with China would need to go to cabinet for discussion, and would match the security treaty signed with Australia that allows for the deployment of armed forces to Honiara.
The Australian security treaty was signed before Solomon Islands switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019.
The potential for Chinese military vessels to be based in Australia’s neighbourhood has sparked alarm in Canberra, which clashed verbally with Beijing last month after a Chinese navy ship passing through Australia’s northern economic exclusion zone aimed a laser pointer at an Australian surveillance plane.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said in an interview with Channel Nine that Australia had 50 police in the Solomon Islands at the request of Honiara and they would remain there until 2023.
“We would be concerned, clearly, at any military base being established and we would express that to the Solomon Islands government,” Mr. Dutton said.
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, he added.
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said security pact discussions between Solomon Islands and China were “one of the most significant security developments that we have seen in decades and it’s one that is adverse to Australia’s national security interests”.
The draft agreement would make Honiara available to Chinese naval and intelligence ships, he said.