Honiara, Solomon Islands:
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday that he had “no intention” of building a military base on China’s Solomon Islands, dismissing speculation about the purpose of his recent security agreement with the island nation.
The Chinese minister, who was in Honiara at the start of an extensive tour of the Pacific island states, said Beijing had signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands government last month “with honesty and integrity on board”.
A leaked draft of the security agreement – the final version has not been made public – contains a provision that would allow Chinese naval deployments to the island nation, some 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Australia.
Wang told a news conference after meeting with Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manel that “it is not imposed on anyone, nor does it target any third party. There is no intention to establish a military base.”
The former Australian government, which lost the May 21 election, said any move to build a Chinese military base would cross a “red line” without specifying the outcome.
But Wang Palta said: “China’s cooperation with the Pacific island nations does not target any country and should not be interfered with or disrupted by any other country.”
He also lashed out at previous Australian governments, describing the Pacific islands as the country’s “backyard”.
“They are not someone’s backyard. All the Pacific island nations have the right to make their own choices, not just follow others,” the foreign minister said through a translator.
Smear and attack
“Any smears and attacks on normal security cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands are not above the board and no such disruption can be found anywhere.”
Wang has been seen expanding the olive branch to other Pacific powers, however, China respects existing international relations with the Pacific island nations and seeks to join them in a tripartite partnership.
The security agreement helps the Solomon Islands government maintain stability and long-term security, he said, “in order to enforce law enforcement and security cooperation in light of the needs and requests of the Solomon Islands.”
The Chinese minister said it also includes “increasing capacity” for the police force.
Last November, protests against the rule of Prime Minister Manseh Sogavar erupted in riots in the capital, Honiara, during which much of the city’s Chinatown was set on fire.
The unrest has “severely threatened the lives and property of the Chinese community in this country,” Wang said.
At Honiara’s request, China sent anti-riot equipment and an “ad-hoc police advisory group,” he said, in addition to sealing off security agreements.
The goal was to build law enforcement in the Solomon Islands and protect its security, he said, and “at the same time, more effectively protect Chinese citizens and institutions.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)