The Solomon Islands has come under enormous pressure from the US and Australia for signing a security pact with China that will allow Beijing to send police and other security forces to the islands. The Pacific island nation’s prime minister said Wednesday that the pressure amounts to the threat of “invasion.”
“We deplore the continual demonstration of lack of trust by the concerned parties, and tacit warning of military intervention in Solomon Islands if their national interest is undermined in Solomon Islands,” Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told parliament. “In other words, we are threatened with invasion.”
Last month, a US State Department official wouldn’t rule out military action as a response if the security pact results in China building a military base in the Solomons.
Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said if China established a base in the Solomons, the US would have “concerns” and would “very naturally respond to those concerns.” Sogavare has repeatedly said that the agreement won’t lead to the establishment of a Chinese military facility.
Sogavare’s comments on Wednesday prompted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to defend his approach to the issue. “Of course, none of that’s true,” Morrison said of Sogavare’s invasion warning. The Australian leader rejected advice from the opposition Left Party to call Sogavare over his comments.
“I can tell you very clearly that I am following very carefully the advice that I get from our security intelligence agencies in how we are responsibly managing the issues in relation to this matter,” Morrison said.