The security treaty with China has been initialed by senior representatives, the first step towards actual signing of the agreement. It is not clear whether there were changes made to the draft that was leaked publicly.
The security agreement has brought alarm from within the region, with concerns that the security agreement will open the door to the establishment of a military base in Solomon Islands.
Prime Minister Mannaseh Sogavare has been quick to dismiss such claims when speaking in Parliament recently.
“We are not pressured in any way by our new friends and there is no intention whatsoever to ask China to build a military base in the Solomon Islands,” he said.
The government has also released a statement on Friday, stating that contrary to the misinformation promoted by anti-government commentators the agreement did not invite China to establish a military base.
“Government is conscious of the security ramification of hosting a military base, and it will not be careless to allow such initiative to take place under its watch,” the statement said.
China has also released a statement through its embassy in Honiara, stating that;
“As two sovereign and independent countries, China and Solomon Islands conduct normal law enforcement and security cooperation on the basis of equality, respect and mutual benefit. It is in the interests of Solomon Islands and other regional countries and should be duly respected.”
On the issue of a military base in the Solomon Islands the Chinese embassy in Honiara stated that;
“This is utterly misinformation deliberately spread with political motive. Prime Minister of Solomon Islands the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare has made public statement on it loud and clear. China has law enforcement and security cooperation with many countries in the world, including PNG, Fiji and Vanuatu in pacific region.”
Senior opposition figure and former Prime Minister Rick Hou has said that the current security discussions with China was done in secret, and was only discussed openly after the draft agreement was leaked.
A legitimate question being raised by the public is whether the security agreement with China will be made available publicly after signing?
Having the agreement available publicly will ease suspicions and doubts, and will go a long way to help rebuild the rift between the public and the government.
It will also give some confidence to our regional friends, and partners outside of the region, that the agreement is hatched in the spirit of friendship and mutual respect, not just for the two parties, but for the peace and prosperity of the Pacific Island region.
The Solomon Islands currently has a security treaty with Australia, which was signed in 2017 and came into force in 2018. The security treaty was triggered by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during the recent riots, sending a formal request to the Australian government during the recent riots. Australia responded by sending police and military personal, restoring order in the capital city Honiara.
The security treaty between the Solomon Islands and Australia is accessible for the public online on;