Solomon Islands sign milestone security pact with China


Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Beijing during a previous state visit. Photo c/o ABC News.

The Solomon Islands finalized a security agreement with China, which has sparked concern from traditional South Pacific nation allies like Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed that the agreement was signed “in recent days” between him and his Solomon Islands counterpart Minister Jeremiah Manele.

According to official statements from the two countries, the security agreement would allow Beijing to assist Honiara in “maintaining social order, protecting people’s safety, aid, combating natural disasters, and helping safeguard national security”.

An official announcement by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has yet to be made.

The deal has raised concern from Australia, with its political opposition calling the agreement “the worst failure of Australian foreign policy in the Pacific since the end of World War 2”, as it failed to send senior ministers to Honiara to stop the agreement from being signed. 

The agreement is believed to be a precursor for China to deploy its military forces deeper into the Pacific region and compromising the security of Australia and New Zealand, and US Pacific territories like Guam and Hawaii, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern seeing it as a “potential militarization of the (Pacific) region”

The draft of the agreement was leaked on March 2022, which is said to allow legal framework for Chinese naval vessels to dock and replenish in the Solomon Islands, and a possibility for Chinese military and police personnel to be deployed in the Solomon Islands to assist local security forces and guard infrastructure projects built or being constructed by China.

But it still remains to be seen what the final version of the agreement has included that would benefit China, as both parties are said to have been secretive with the final contents of the security agreement.

Prime Minister Sogavare described criticisms from Australia and other countries on agreeing to sign a security deal with China as “very insulting”, saying that the country is free to diversify its relations with other partners, and that other countries’ concern that China would build military bases in the Solomon Islands are baseless. 

China has 2 other defense agreements with Ethiopia and Cambodia, with the former resulting to a Chinese foreign military base in the Horn of Africa.

[1] ABC News

[2] Financial Times

[3] The Guardian

Solomon Islands sign milestone security pact with China Solomon Islands sign milestone security pact with China Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on April 21, 2022 Rating: 5

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