China says it has ‘no intention’ of building military base in Solomon Islands

Honiara [Solomon Islands]May 26 (ANI): Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday that Beijing has “no intention at all” to build a military base in the Solomon Islands.

Under the watchful eye of the United States, the Chinese foreign minister paid an official visit to the South Pacific island countries starting today to strengthen ties with the tiny but strategically located island nations.

The Chinese minister dismissed international concerns over the security deal Beijing struck last month with Honiara, saying it was “above the edge, with honesty and integrity”.

Wang stressed that security cooperation between the two countries is open and frank. “It is not imposed on others, nor targeted on a third party, and China has no intention of establishing a military base in the Solomon Islands,” he said, quoted by the Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese minister met with Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele and exchanged views on improving bilateral relations and expanding pragmatic cooperation in various fields.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the two sides agreed to join forces to forge flagship Road and Belt Initiative (BRI) mega-projects and make good use of preferential policies for duty-free exports to China. and assist Solomon Islands to fully exploit its resource advantages and development potentials.

A draft communiqué and five-year action plan were sent by China to 10 Pacific island countries that have diplomatic ties with Beijing, ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers on May 30, the news agency reported. Kyodo citing ABC.

Wang is touring eight Pacific Island countries.

Earlier in April, the Solomon Islands clarified that it would not allow any foreign countries to build military bases in the country following speculation that arose after signing security cooperation with China.

“The government is aware of the security ramifications of hosting a military base, and it will not neglect to allow such an initiative to take place under its watch,” a government statement said, adding that, “unlike disinformation promoted by anti-government commentators,” the (security) deal did not invite China to establish a military base in the country, The Diplomat reported.

The memorandum of understanding on security cooperation between China and the Solomon Islands was signed on March 18. It allowed China to send police, armed police, military personnel and other law enforcement personnel to the Solomon Islands, upon request, to help maintain social order and perform other agreed tasks. by both countries, according to media reports.

Under the provisions of the MoU, Chinese navy vessels can conduct logistical resupply and Chinese armed forces can be relocated to protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands government said on Thursday that only a draft New Security Pact agreement had been initialed by representatives of the Solomons and China and that the agreement would be “cleaned up”.

According to the report, article 5 of the memorandum of understanding stipulates that the nature of the agreed cooperation cannot be disclosed to a “third party” without the consent of both parties.

Earlier, in 2019, the Solomon Islands changed its diplomatic relations from Taiwan to Beijing. The country has already had a bilateral security agreement with Australia since 2017.

The signing of a security partnership with Beijing has raised concerns in Canberra as it sees the development as part of a bid by Beijing to establish a military base in the region.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands is also negotiating several other memorandums of understanding with China, including on civil aviation services and trade expansion under a non-reciprocal trade agreement, according to the report. (ANI)

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