Pacific Community Seeks Further Transparency From Solomon Islands Over China Deal: Australian Foreign Minister

Australia and its Pacific neighbours are calling for more transparency from the political leadership of the Solomon Islands regarding its security deal with China.“[There’s] a concern that there has been a lack of transparency in relation to this agreement and that it is something that should be discussed in a broader Pacific Island Forum context itself,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told ABC’s Insiders program on April 16.The minister said Canberra has been given assurances by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare that its security agreement with China won’t involve a Chinese military base being installed. “I think they are very important assurances,” she said, noting that security cooperation would continue despite Sogavare’s agreement with China. But despite the assurances, there are concerns over China’s intentions in the region, with leaked documents suggesting that Beijing had been scouting for a location in the region to develop military projects. Neighbouring countries in the Pacific have called for more discussions on the details of the security deal with China. “Australia would support that discussion. Other countries have called for it as well,” Payne said of the potential talks. She said that the assurances to Australia from Sogavare had been the result of her, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Pacific Minister Zed Seselja’s discussions with its Pacific neighbour. “We have been engaged in bilateral security work with the Solomon Islands work for a long time,” she said. Payne said this came under the bilateral security treaty between the Solomon Islands and Australia and backed New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, which went to the country at the end of last year to support it in dealing with the unrest that occurred at that time. Read MoreBeijing-Solomons Security Deal a ‘Sword in Australia’s Back’: Opposition LeaderAustralia, NZ Intervention Prolonging Rule of Unpopular, Pro-Beijing Solomons Leader: Pacific Expert Protesters were calling for Sogavare to step down over his decision to switch allegiances to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from Taiwan in 2019. Ensuing riots saw the Chinatown district destroyed and Sogavare’s residence attacked. AAP contributed to this report.

Pacific Community Seeks Further Transparency From Solomon Islands Over China Deal: Australian Foreign Minister

Australia and its Pacific neighbours are calling for more transparency from the political leadership of the Solomon Islands regarding its security deal with China.

“[There’s] a concern that there has been a lack of transparency in relation to this agreement and that it is something that should be discussed in a broader Pacific Island Forum context itself,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told ABC’s Insiders program on April 16.

The minister said Canberra has been given assurances by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare that its security agreement with China won’t involve a Chinese military base being installed.

“I think they are very important assurances,” she said, noting that security cooperation would continue despite Sogavare’s agreement with China.

But despite the assurances, there are concerns over China’s intentions in the region, with leaked documents suggesting that Beijing had been scouting for a location in the region to develop military projects.

Neighbouring countries in the Pacific have called for more discussions on the details of the security deal with China.

“Australia would support that discussion. Other countries have called for it as well,” Payne said of the potential talks.

She said that the assurances to Australia from Sogavare had been the result of her, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Pacific Minister Zed Seselja’s discussions with its Pacific neighbour.

“We have been engaged in bilateral security work with the Solomon Islands work for a long time,” she said.

Payne said this came under the bilateral security treaty between the Solomon Islands and Australia and backed New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, which went to the country at the end of last year to support it in dealing with the unrest that occurred at that time.

Protesters were calling for Sogavare to step down over his decision to switch allegiances to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from Taiwan in 2019. Ensuing riots saw the Chinatown district destroyed and Sogavare’s residence attacked.

AAP contributed to this report.