HomeWORLDChina and Solomon Islands sign military pact amid security concern

China and Solomon Islands sign military pact amid security concern

China on Tuesday said it had signed a wide-ranging security pact with the Solomon Islands, an agreement Western governments fear could give Beijing a military foothold in the South Pacific.

“Foreign ministers of China and Solomon Islands officially signed the framework agreement on security cooperation recently,” Chinese spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

A provision of a draft version of the agreement, which leaked last month, raised alarm as it allowed Chinese security and naval deployments to the Solomon Islands, a country of about 700,000 people that in recent months has faced political and social unrest.

This comes just hours after the United States announced it was sending officials to the South Pacific nation amid concerns Beijing could establish a military foothold there.

Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong accused the Australian government of failing to prevent the pact.

“Despite all of his tough talk, on Scott Morrison’s watch our region has become less secure,” Senator Wong said. “His government was warned of this security pact in August and he hasn’t even bothered to send the Foreign Minister to the Solomon Islands to raise concerns on behalf of all Australians.”

This security deal also comes ahead of top White House and State Department officials’ visit to three Pacific Island nations: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.

The delegation–which will include representatives from the National Security Council, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the United States Agency for International Development–will seek to further deepen US ties with the region.

(With Inputs from agencies)

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